One of the hardest things about representing a nurse before the Board is that anyone can make an allegation against the nurse and report it. Many times, these can be a “he said … she said” situation.
“The nurse gave me only 1 type of codone instead of 2!” “The nurse held my arms so tight; I got a bruise!” “The nurse took money from my wallet!” And the list goes on and on.
It is so sad that these allegations are made and the ones in the previous paragraph are just from patients. But coworkers can make allegations too. “I saw her drop a medication on the floor then administer it to a patient.” “My coworker was rude to a patient.” When a hospital hears about allegations from patients and staff about nurses, they are going to be concerned. In my experience, the facility usually takes the patient’s side and even if the complaint is unsubstantiated, frequently the nurse will lose their job.
How can you protect yourself from these allegations? Well, to be honest, I don’t have a magic answer.
I think part of the problem is the culture of nursing. The Board’s job is to protect the public and not the nurse. The hospital thinks the nurse’s job is to promote good customer service.
About the only advice I can give would be that if you have any concerns about taking care of particular patients, voice those concerns and see if you can have your assignment changed. It is not worth it to put yourself in a situation where a complaint can be made against you.
I frequently hear from nurse clients that a particular coworker or manager, “had it out for me.” Should you ever feel like you are in one of situations, it is better to leave the facility and find another job rather than to face an allegation.
I think it would be great if the criminal standard of being “beyond a reasonable doubt” would be applied to a complaint. However, it’s not. The Board can listen to hearsay and if there’s any concern about safety to the public, they will take action. It doesn’t seem quite right but that is what happens.
I think the best way to prevent circumstances is to avoid them. If you feel that you should have a witness while caring for a particular patient or when you are with a coworker, bring someone with you. Then, if you are ever called on the matter, you have some protection. Your license is too important.
How would you protect yourself in these types of situations? Have you ever found yourself at the center of such matter? What did YOU do? Let us hear your comments in the space below.
Concerned Citizen , Court Watcher says
You are so right. I do know a nurse who went to prison for 11 years on he said she said , inappropriate touch. (see Courtney Bisbee) matter. It is now in the U S Supreme court . The accuser was a 15 year old male , but mostly his mother was behind it . They sued the school where Courtney was working as a nurse , so it was about money. Even though the accuser’s brother filed with the state atty , the mother told the son “stick to your story and you’ll be a rich kid” . The accuser told his girlfriend nothing happened , the state wouldn’t let her testify. Courtney is a sex offender for life. Her daughter was 5 at the time.. Sent to live with ex husband and will not speak to her . This was AZ. Her atty told her to go for a bench trial , “I golf with the Judge”, big mistake.
Hi Lorie , your son is handsome and smart, tell him I am proud of him , you did a great job with your kids so be proud mama.
Here is what happened to me with a he said she said:
A woman (whom I have never met or seen ) told the Board of Nursing , “she left voice mails on my phone threatening to kill me ” . This was Yuma Regional Medical Center. This was over 8 months after I packed up and quit. A dangerous man living in the apts Owned by YRMC, the hospital would do nothing , They were not happy I called the police on him or got a PPO , and I sued him when I got back to Phx and I prevailed. The Hospital got word of this and thinking they had a legal issue they put in a false complaint on me , in an attempt to ‘turn the tables I was the one harassing him, even though i left . Just wanted him to stay away. So this woman who was in risk mgt by now, filed that I threatened her and stalked him. I lost my license . NO evidence . In court she was questioned .Did she save the VM ?, no . Did she call security? NO, did she call police ?NO, did anyone else hear them? , Yes, she said the CHief of Police did . (I hired a P I who went to this COP and got his affidavit , he never heard any VM or heard of me ! ” Still the AZ BON , revoked my license . (the boards are protecting hospitals not the public. ) .
It wasn’t until after the hearing I discovered this women perjured herself, many times , this woman testified she was a nurse, “”A nurse for 13 yrs at YRMC” signed her name RN , and the AAG said as a nurse would you want her working in your hospital ? It was later i found out she has never had a license to practice nursing in AZ . ! A class 6 felony AZ, I reported this to the AZBON , she was an imposter . Now remember she is their main witness . The BON refused to put her name on the list on the web site . (there is no DOH in AZ umbrella ) I contacted the Gov who has no authority over the BON, no over sight board, his constituent services over agencies told the AZBON to send cease and desist . I received a copy of the cease and desist from the bd. I still have lost my career , livelihood, put on the national data bank list and after 30 years acute care with no complaints I cannot work anywhere medicare is involved nor volunteer. This azbon is ruthless and will not back down or admit wrong doing .
This woman also told the BON investigator she worked with the DEA which was a lie too.
In court the ALJ who presided heard the matter , and anyone in the court room knew (including the AAG ) it was all a big retaliation scheme. After the trial , and closing arguments went in , I got notice they were ‘changing the judge out ” . What! So the ALJ who did not hear the case , signed what the corrupt board of nursing in AZ wrote out . I looked through the cases and not one nurse has prevailed since the OAH started 1994, a waste of time , and rigged Sham court . A he said she said liar with no evidence , and you can lose your career . It happened . NO one should ever get a license in AZ and be under this corrupt AZBON.
Patricia RN says
I suffered with license probation largely over a witness nurse’s statement taken out of context. I did make an error programming a continuous drip medication. The charge had to do with, in part, that I didn’t have a second nurse verify. She stated I didn’t call her into the room. This is true because SHE CAME IN THE ROOM AT THE TIME WE PREARRANGED EARLIER. This is the type of thing that can turn things against the nurse being investigated during the process when you do not have the opportunity to address this type of detail.
Odds are stacked against the nurse in a system that does not provide the same protections as other areas of the law.
Obviously there are more details to my case, this is only one detail but a good example of how even a small detail in someone’s statements can be held against you.
Barbara Macfie says
I read the above and literally cried. I am a “passionate nurse” but I do try hard to help/support my coworkers and let them know I’m helping/supporting. I am consistent in my care to every patient. I keep up to date on my inservices. I document document document. What the patient said and did – my responses what I said and did,. I know records can be altered but this to state is my best defense. IF I get an uncomfortable feeling I always email charge nurse ADON/DON. Recording the incident the best I can. I am always gentle and “kind” with each patient/staff encounter and if I slip up (I am not perfect) I immediately apologize. – Document encounter and email ADON/DON
LORIE A BROWN, R.N., M.N., J.D. says
Thanks for the great suggestions!