Devising New Code of Conduct Can Improve Hospital Employee, Patient Satisfaction

Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media , January 19, 2010

When it comes to certain policies, it's all about the details.

In 2006, Pam Harmon, RN, legal nurse consultant and chief nursing officer at Fredonia (KS) Regional Hospital (FRH) took a closer look into her facility's employee code of conduct.

The Commitment to Coworkers policy, as the code of conduct was then known, only pertained to the nursing staff and did not deal with other staff members' attitudes. This went against a new facility policy because the code of conduct's new purpose was to include everyone—not just the nursing staff—and to change the attitude of every staff member in FRH.

Harmon took matters into her own hands, and with the help of an in-service committee, went about changing the information of FRH's employee code of conduct.

Harmon searched the Web to find a variety of examples from other facilities to get a broader perspective on her facility's options. Using key words, such as "standards of performance" and "code of conduct," Harmon gathered a few examples that she brought to an in-service committee meeting.

Harmon was also careful not to layer another facility's policy onto FRH, but rather selected items that were actually applicable to her facility.

"We took a lot of information from other facilities' examples, only taking what we felt necessary for Fredonia," says Harmon.

From these examples, Harmon and the in-service committee blended information to fit the FRH's needs, and came up with the standards of performance to include all the staff members.

"Throughout the development of the standards of performance, the in-service team and I decided which information would be important enough to feature in the document," says Harmon.

Improving the attitudes and the quality of patient care, along with the attitudes of the staff members, was the focus in Harmon and her committee's mind when reviewing all the information.

Eventually, Harmon and the committee determined what to focus on for the new standards of performance. These areas include:

  • Attitude

  • Personal appearance

  • Communication

  • Culture of safety

  • Commitment to patients

  • Commitment to co-workers

  • Customer waiting

  • Hallway etiquette

  • Privacy

  • Safety awareness

  • Sense of ownership

"The old code of conduct was not as specific and did not pertain to every staff member in the facility," says Harmon.

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