Vanderbilt latest system to adopt patient code of conduct

Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center is the latest system to adopt a patient code of conduct amid a national increase of violence against healthcare workers, the system announced Feb. 16.

According to a Feb. 5 report from National Nurses United, 81.6% of nurses reported that they have experienced workplace violence, with half also noting they have seen instances of violence increase in the last year.

Aside from reminder signs around the facilities stating things like "All people are welcome here. But all behavior isn't," Vanderbilt's new patient code of conduct includes definitions of unacceptable mistreatment patients are forbidden from engaging in at any of its facilities. This includes racist or discriminatory behavior, physical and verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual threats and more. 

Violations of the new patient code can range from restrictions to termination of care in non-emergent situations. A patient will have a chance to respond and speak to any behavior, if appropriate for the situation, before any penalties are imposed, the release notes.

Vanderbilt is the latest to follow what other large health systems in the U.S. have implemented related to patient conduct. Boston-based Mass General Brigham adopted its own code of patient conduct in November 2022.

Milford (Mass.) Regional Medical Center announced Jan. 22 it would adopt a patient code of conduct. 

"Patient/visitor codes of conduct are not new," a spokesperson for the American Hospital Association told Becker's. "A large number of hospitals and health systems have patient/visitor codes of conduct, but recently we've noticed more support and promotion of these behavioral standards along with signage as an effort to reduce workplace violence. Some hospitals have told us that these codes of conduct help set a tone of mutual respect and understanding with the patients and communities they serve."

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