MHA Members Issue a United Call to Action on Violence in Healthcare Facilities

Principles will be adapted within each organization’s Codes of Conduct.

Healthcare organizations across the commonwealth will adopt a common set of principles within their Patient and Family Codes of Conduct as part of a unified call to action to protect healthcare workers and the patients in their care. The United Code of Conduct is part of a new Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) report: “Workplace Violence at Massachusetts Healthcare Facilities: An Untenable Situation & A Call to Protect the Workforce,” which sheds light on the escalation of violent incidents in Massachusetts healthcare facilities and the extensive measures being taken to prevent them.

Last week, the MHA Board of Trustees endorsed these United Code of Conduct Principles. They include measures to promote a safe and respectful environment, examples of what potential violations look like, proposed consequences for violations, and recommendations for maintaining the principles long-term. The effort is a part of MHA’s larger workforce initiative to support and grow the commonwealth’s base of talented healthcare professionals.

“Healthcare workers are under more pressure than at any time in history, and violence will never be a part of their job description. Hospital and health system leaders recognize this, and are doing everything in their power to mitigate unacceptable behavior in their facilities. But they cannot do it without the help and support of community members,” said Steve Walsh, President & CEO of MHA. “This effort is about taking a stand for the wellbeing of caregivers in a way that every one of us can control.”

“These principles set firm, direct expectations among everyone who enters a healthcare facility in Massachusetts – no matter where that might be,” said Therese Hudson-Jinks, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Experience Office, and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services at Tufts Medical Center. “Healthcare facilities are a place of refuge. Great patient care is only possible when all our employees — from nurses and physicians to security personnel and administrative staff – feel safe and secure.”

Over the past three years, MHA has conducted a monthly survey of Massachusetts hospitals to track the frequency, location, and types of violence committed on their campuses. The 56 responding acute and post-acute hospitals across the commonwealth provided data revealing that every 38 minutes in a Massachusetts healthcare facility there is a case of physical assault, verbal abuse, or threats made against someone – most often a clinician or staff member. Nurses report the most (38%) incidents of workplace violence, followed by security personnel (27%), and other clinical staff (19%).

The new report includes data on abusive incidents, as well as the solutions MHA members are championing to protect healthcare professionals. Violence prevention has been a long-standing priority for Massachusetts hospitals and health systems.

MHA has again filed comprehensive violence prevention legislation at the State House as the new legislative session begins; the association also serves as a forum for leaders to share knowledge, establish best practices, and construct reforms around issues of worker safety. This work is led by the MHA’s Healthcare Safety and Violence Prevention Workgroup, which is composed of more than 70 experts in security, nursing, human resources, and more.

To learn more about the United Code of Conduct and the workplace violence crisis, please reference “Workplace Violence at Massachusetts Healthcare Facilities: An Untenable Situation & A Call to Protect the Workforce.”