The Milford Regional Medical Center in Massachusetts has threatened to deny care to anyone who uses “unwelcome words.”
The medical center announced that it has new rules for its so-called “inclusive environment” that place restrictions on free speech.
The new rules have caused a recent stir with a warning to potential patients that they must follow a specific code of conduct to access their services.
On January 3, the facility’s chief medical officer, Dr. Peter Smulowitz, published a now-unlisted video on the hospital’s official YouTube channel.
In the video, Smulowitz explains how not just staff, but patients themselves, are held accountable for “causing offense.”
The prohibited actions range from rhetoric to a hostile tone of voice.
“Everyone should expect a safe, caring, and inclusive environment in all our spaces,” 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 specified that some examples of unacceptable conduct would be “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.”
Smulowitz warned that “body language and tone of voice are also important parts of communication.”
However, the doctor said that people would be given a chance to “explain” themselves should they be accused of such conduct.
“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,” he said.
“We will always carefully consider your response before we make any decisions about future care at Milford Regional.”
The official website laid out some potential scenarios of how the medical center will respond to infractions, including the denial of non-emergency treatment.
The entry on the website reads:
“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.”