Vanderbilt Health Implements Patient and Visitor Code of Conduct

Introduction of code comes in response to increasing workplace violence against healthcare employees.

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

Vanderbilt Health has implemented new signage and policies to address the increasing incidence of workplace violence against healthcare workers, according to a press release. The signs at Vanderbilt Health hospitals and clinics say that inappropriate behavior toward staff is not tolerated. In addition to existing policies dealing with physical violence and verbal abuse, the healthcare system introduced a patient and visitor code of conduct to address mistreatment and discrimination.  

Vanderbilt Health says the code aims to foster mutual respect between patients and healthcare workers, outlining expected behaviors and providing processes for addressing disrespectful or discriminatory actions. The code defines mistreatment and discrimination as acts that compromise safety, impede care, disrupt others' experiences, are abusive or disrespectful or are discriminatory or racist.  

Consequences for violating the code can include visitor restrictions, behavioral agreements or termination of care in non-emergency situations. Patients have an opportunity to explain themselves before decisions about their future care are made. 

Workplace violence against healthcare employees is an ongoing issue and often requires changes ranging from security to culture to be implemented to ensure overall safety.  

Healthcare organizations have implemented a range of security measures, such as security guards, cameras and access controls, which work together to increase safety in a healthcare facility.  

Moreover, access controls can secure healthcare facilities through these measures, as Brian Ha, product manager at STANLEY Access Technologies, previously told Healthcare Facilities Today:  

  • Restricting access to facilities, and specific areas within those facilities, to only authorized individuals by requiring authenticated credentials prior to unlocking a secured door. Unauthorized individuals could pose a threat to patients or staff.  
  • Providing a secure environment for facility staff and patients. Since access is controlled, staff and patients feel safer in their healthcare environment allowing for focused treatment.  
  • Recording and tracking access. More advanced access control systems provide numerous features that can provide information useful in investigating security incidents. 

However, access controls can only do what they are intended to do. They treat the symptoms of the issue and not the core of it, which can instead be addressed by changes in workplace culture. Instilling a culture of respect and safety can be done through codes of conduct such as in the case of Vanderbilt Health or by making use of available resources.  

For further reference, these are a few resources on addressing workplace violence in healthcare:  

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 

February 21, 2024

Topic Area: Safety , Security

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