Statement to PDC Staff, Providers on Disturbing Behavior Directed at Clinic Staff

Duke PDC

TO: All PDC Members and Staff regarding an Increase in Disturbing Behavior Directed toward Clinic Staff, Providers

FROM: Dr. John Sampson, PDC President

In recent months, we have all felt a range of new emotions, including tension, anxiety, and, at times, anger. There is a productive way to manage those emotions, and unproductive ones. Recently some staff and providers in our clinics have experienced an increase in hostile and often racist behavior from our patients and visitors. I want to be clear… the PDC will not tolerate anyone, including patients, visitors, staff or providers, who makes threatening, racist or hostile comments or actions in our clinics.

The PDC takes seriously its obligation to create a healthcare environment in which everyone feels safe, protected, and respected. When patients are disrespectful or belligerent toward staff and providers, whether it be because of an unwillingness to comply with new screening and masking requirements or deliberate racist attacks, we will not hesitate to take swift action, including having the patient removed from the premises or, if needed, discharging the patient from the practice. (Read PDC Patient Discharge Policy; DUHS Disruptive Patient Policy)

Should you have an aggressive encounter, the first goal is to attempt to diffuse the situation with calm, direct words. To help you handle such circumstances appropriately and with confidence, we have prepared scripts for you to use (below). If you feel threatened, the proper escalation path should be:

  • Notify 911 or police if there is an urgent, immediate threat or danger
  • Attempt to diffuse the situation using suggested scripting - Wearing a Mask; Racial Comments
  • Notify the clinic medical director or HCA if behavior continues. They should immediately contact PDC Operations, or, if needed, call PDC Legal.

Receiving care at Duke comes with an expectation that patients and visitors treat our staff and providers with respect. We have not and will not tolerate anything less. 

As I said in my message to you earlier this week, the PDC is a family. We protect, support, and respect one another.  Please also take advantage of the wellness resources, stress management, and other tips available to you on the PDC Intranet. 

Do not hesitate to contact me or anyone in the PDC if you have concerns.