Massachusetts hospital s affiliated with UMass Memorial Health have implemented strict guidelines warning patients that they could be denied medical care for exhibiting offensive conduct. Dr. Peter Smulowitz, the chief medical officer at Milford Regional Medical Center, outlined the updated patient conduct rules in a video announcement. The hospital emphasizes the importance of maintaining a safe, caring, and inclusive environment for everyone in their spaces. The warning comes as the hospital officially becomes affiliated with UMass Memorial Health, which already has a similar patient conduct policy in place.
The hospital’s patient and visitor code of conduct now holds patients accountable for words or actions that are disrespectful, racist, discriminatory, hostile, or harassing. This includes offensive comments about race, religion, gender, orientation, as well as refusal to see a clinician based on personal traits. In addition, aggressive or intimidating threats, as well as sexual or vulgar words and actions, are strictly prohibited. Dr. Smulowitz also highlighted the importance of body language and tone of voice in communication, emphasizing their significance in the hospital’s inclusive environment.
In the event of a violation, the hospital will give patients an opportunity to explain their point of view before making any decisions about future care. While some violations may lead to patients being asked to make other plans for their care, the hospital reassures that they expect this to be rare. The announcement has sparked outrage on social media, with some expressing concerns and warning about potential complaints to the state medical board.
UMass Memorial Health, the largest nonprofit healthcare system in Central Massachusetts, has also released its own patient code of conduct, warning patients that failure to abide by the expectations may result in discharge from the hospital or appointment. This is part of a trend in the state, as another premier hospital in Massachusetts, Mass General, also announced similar patient conduct guidelines in 2022. The hospital’s policy emphasized a zero-tolerance approach to disrespectful, racist, discriminatory, hostile, or harassing behavior, with potential consequences such as patients being asked to make other plans for their care.
The implementation of such strict patient conduct guidelines is a reflection of the healthcare institutions’ commitment to fostering inclusive and respectful environments for all patients and visitors. These policies aim to ensure that everyone feels safe and welcomed in their facilities, demonstrating the importance of promoting a culture of respect and understanding in healthcare settings.