Signs warning that “aggressive behavior will not be tolerated” are popping up everywhere. According to Vice President of Operations and Chief Administrative Officer at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Anthony Scibelli, at least some of the signs are the product of new requirements from the Joint Commission, an independent non-profit organization that has somehow gained the power to make hospitals feel required to comply with their proposed regulations. However, we are thinking there must still be some discretion hospitals and other facilities have in terms of how those signs look, where they are placed, and exactly what they say. So, why are so many facilities choosing to make them so prominent, and so… red?
Unfortunately, many people – particularly individuals who’ve experienced harm from doctors and medical facilities – read those signs to basically be saying, “We are likely to treat you badly here… But, you’re not allowed to get upset about it!” As if to prove this point, Edward Kostek, a physical therapist working for Cooley Dickinson was just this past week convicted by a jury for indecent assault on one of his patients. (https://tinyurl.com/CooleyCon) Unfortunately, the reality is that poor treatment (particularly of folks with psychiatric histories) is commonplace, and accountability is rare.
That said, surely, its also true that folks working in the medical field get yelled at, threatened, and treated poorly overall too much of the time. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given so many people struggle to get access to adequate healthcare, often still aren’t getting what they need when they show up for help, may be scared about what’s going on for them, and have had a history of poor and abusive treatment from healthcare workers. (And that’s not even taking into account folks who are in Emergency Rooms or psychiatric units, and who may be subject to force, restraints, and observation.) But, that doesn’t mean the people working in those roles should be expected to tolerate bad or abusive treatment. Most of the time, they’re not responsible for our failing systems either.
But how many people who are already upset are listening to a big red sign that reads as aggressive about not being aggressive? If the sign gets noticed at all, how many people might get angrier or more upset BECAUSE of it? Don’t these hospitals know that when someone is in a trauma response state, the blood literally rushes away from the part of their brain that processes information and is able to exercise reason, and to a more reactive place anyway?
What do YOU think of these signs? Do they help or hurt? What could hospitals and other environments of this nature do to meet the Joint Commission requirements without setting off alarms and causing people who’ve been hurt even more harm? Let us know what you think here (we will be sharing your feedback in a future article and with these facilities!): tinyurl.com/SignsSurvey22