What Do I Do If a Patient or Visitor Refuses to Wear a Mask? Advice for Southern New Hampshire Health Providers and Staff


SolutionHealth, the parent company of Elliot Health System and Southern New Hampshire Health, has made it its mission to provide health care while keeping staff, patients, and visitors safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health system is doing this by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s guidelines recommend that staff, patients, and visitors wear masks and practice proper social distancing measures in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Recently, staff at Southern New Hampshire Health report having been challenged by patients and visitors who refuse to wear a mask.

There can be valid reasons for a patient’s refusal to wear a mask including age, some breathing related medical diagnoses, and/or some psychiatric conditions. When an outpatient arriving for a visit, test, or procedure refuses to wear a mask, screeners should:

  1. Explain that masks are in use for the safety of staff, patients, and visitors.
  2. Inform the patient they may be restricted or denied entry, which may delay their care.
  3. NOT argue if the patient continues to refuse, call your manager for assistance.
  4. Verify and communicate next steps for the patient.
  5. Call for security assistance for angry outbursts or threatening behaviors.

For clinical emergencies, call for a Medical Alert (for persons inside the hospital or clinic) or 911 (for persons outside the clinical location).