Patient codes of conduct should be the norm, says hospital quality veteran

Amid the threat of workplace violence, hospitals must take further actions to protect employees, like instituting a patient code of conduct, a former UF Health-Jacksonville (Fla.) leader argues in a letter published Nov. 12. 

The letter, published by The Florida Times-Union, is written by Douglas Grob, former director of quality, performance improvement and accreditation at UF Health–Jacksonville. 

In his letter, Mr. Grob pointed to Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham's recently enacted patient code of conduct, which makes clear that "words or actions that are disrespectful, racist, discriminatory, hostile or harassing" will not be tolerated. The code of conduct gives the following examples: offensive comments about others' race, accent, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other personal traits; refusal to see a clinician or other worker based on personal traits; physical or verbal threats and assaults; sexual or vulgar words or actions; and disrupting another patient's care or experience.

"If we believe you have violated the code with unwelcome words or actions, you will be given the chance to explain your point of view. We will always carefully consider your response before we make any decisions about future care at Mass General Brigham," the code of conduct states. "Some violations of this code may lead to patients being asked to make other plans for their care and future non-emergency care at Mass General Brigham may require review, though we expect this to be rare"

Mr. Grob said such consequences "are generally sprinkled around other polices or rights documents but not really focused and emphasized as they must be going forward." 

He said he has a personal interest in the issue since his wife and daughter are front-line nurses.

"We have got to do something to make things safer for everyone," he wrote. 

Read the full letter here

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