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Massachusetts hospital warns it may deny care to those using ‘unwelcome words’ about race, gender

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Potential patients and even visitors of a Massachusetts medical center may be denied services if their freedom of speech violates a code of conduct aimed at creating a “safe, caring and inclusive environment.”

Patients and visitors of the Milford Regional Medical Center were warned about using any “unwelcome words” about race and gender, among other things by the 148-bed, “nonprofit, acute-care facility” and teaching hospital in Milford, Mass.

The chief medical officer at the center explained the policy in a video on the hospital’s official YouTube channel at the top of the year and the “Patient and Visitor Code of Conduct” is also available on the hospital’s website.

“Everyone should expect a safe, caring and inclusive environment in all our spaces,” Dr. Peter Smulowitz said.

“Our patient and visitor code of conduct helps us meet this goal. Words or actions that are disrespectful, racist, discriminatory, hostile or harassing are not welcome and will not be tolerated,” he added.

The doctor provided examples of what would be deemed objectionable, including “offensive comments about others’ race, ethnicity, accent, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other personal traits; refusal to see a clinician or other staff member based on these personal traits; aggressive or intimidating behavior, physical or verbal threats and assaults; sexual or vulgar words or actions; and disrupting another patient’s care or experience.”

Even “body language and tone of voice” were listed as “important parts of communication.”

“If we believe you have violated our code with unwelcome words or actions, you will be given a chance to explain your point of view. We will always carefully consider your response before we make any decisions about future care at Milford Regional,” Smulowitz conceded.

The website notes that anyone who witnesses or feels they “have been a target” of offensive behavior should report it “immediately.”

“Some violations of this [c]ode may lead to patients being asked to make other plans for their care. For serious or repeated violations, future non-emergency care and visitation rights at Milford Regional may require review, though we expect this to be rare,” the website notes.

3 Comments

  1. Unless t has changed if they are sanctioned by the joint commission they cannot refuse healthcare to any body.

  2. Joint commission policy prohibits hospitals from denying care to anyone.

  3. While Milford Regional Medical Center is warning patients and visitors are they sure they have clean hearts within the staff, nurses, and doctors?
    I don’t suggest that the offending words and actions are not heinous, but it seems “obvious” to me that they are security issues. It is very likely to become unenforceable when arguments occur on both sides.

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