Virginia Hospital Nurses Address Patient and Visitor Behavior Expectations in Public Service Announcement

April 15, 2024

Amid Growing Challenge of Health Care Workplace Violence, Virginia Hospital Nurses Explain Appropriate Conduct in New Public Awareness Campaign

Statewide Campaign is Part of Ongoing Public Education and Awareness Efforts to Encourage Patients and Visitors to Behave Respectfully in Health Care Settings

RICHMOND, VA – In a new public service announcement, Virginia nurses from hospitals across the Commonwealth urge people to behave respectfully during visits to health care facilities so clinicians can stay focused on providing patient care.

That message is at the heart of the ongoing “Help Us, Help You” public awareness and education campaign from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA), which draws attention to the heightened risk of workplace violence faced by health care professionals. Workplace violence is a serious challenge in health care settings. Health care workers are five times more likely to experience a workplace violence injury compared to workers in other industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data also suggests instances of workplace violence against health care professionals are rising. This is a concern for the safety of clinical staff as well as patients because the disruption of workplace violence can impact patients’ ability to access timely care.

The latest VHHA videos in the “Help Us, Help You” initiative feature hospital nurses explaining why directing verbal abuse towards clinical staff doing their jobs is inappropriate because it can cause distractions that impede their ability to care for patients. The same is true of physically assaulting or threatening to harm clinical staff providing care. Such conduct is illegal in Virginia and may carry serious criminal penalties. Nurses featured in the videos offer advice on proper conduct in health care settings – telling viewers not to bring weapons into a hospital and to refrain from verbal outbursts and improper physical contact with staff in clinical environments – and share strategies for patients and visitors to appropriately address concerns by asking questions and sharing feedback in a respectful manner.

“It is imperative that patients, families, and visitors conduct themselves appropriately at health care facilities. That is the best way to ensure all patients have access to timely medical care, which can be disrupted when people berate, threaten to harm, or physically assault health care providers,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “People pursue health care careers because they care about others and want to help. Their focus is on providing care and comfort to patients in need. Delivering clinical care is important and often time-sensitive work. So, our message to the public is clear: please behave respectfully and appropriately in the presence of health care professionals performing their jobs.”

A 30-second version of the new public service announcement has been shared with television and radio stations across the state and will be promoted on digital channels. This current effort follows a previous public awareness campaign on this subject featuring a series of videos VHHA released in June 2023 highlighting the raw, emotional stories of hospital nurses from Central Virginia, Northern Virginia, and Southwest Virginia about their firsthand experience with workplace violence in clinical settings.

In addition to advancing the “Help Us, Help You” public awareness campaign, VHHA and hospital members have worked with the Virginia General Assembly in recent years to strengthen protections for health care professionals performing their jobs. Under state law, it is a class 1 misdemeanor to threaten to kill or harm health care professionals rendering care in all health care settings. On the federal level, legislation pending in the U.S. Congress – the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act – would give hospital staff enhanced legal protection against workplace assault and intimidation if enacted into law. VHHA also has a Workplace Safety Task Force and has developed a Workplace Violence Prevention Toolkit with information about applicable state laws, background information on the topic, and detailed guidelines to support organizations in developing, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining workplace violence prevention programs. Read more about health care workplace safety here.

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 111 hospitals and 26 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health. Its vision is through the power of collaboration to be recognized as a driving force behind making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok.



Julian Walker
Vice President of Communications
(804) 297-3193 office
(804) 304-7402 mobile