A Minnesota emergency room nurse was concerned about having to wear his own scrubs to work during COVID and returning home to his wife and children wearing those potentially contaminated scrubs. He worried about bringing the virus home and passing it on to his family.
Scrubs were available in the emergency department and healthcare workers at other hospitals in the same system were allowed to wear the scrubs provided by the hospital.
However, at this particular hospital, he was told he could NOT use the hospital scrubs. He continued to wear the hospital acquired scrubs rather than his own and, as a result, was terminated. Since then, he received a letter from the Board.
It is so aggravating to learn that nurses, who are trying to protect their families, cannot wear hospital provided scrubs but are forced to wear their own scrubs and to wear home after working with possible COVID patients at the hospital.
However, I do not condone violating hospital policy and he did receive a warning after which he continued to disobey the hospital policy and continued using the hospital provided scrubs.
The nurse felt he was forced to decide whether the most important point was the policy or the safety of his workplace, public health, and family.
There is an appropriate way to make change and there are appropriate channels for this. If you cannot make change, then you can decide if you want to leave.
There are also other ways to protect your family’s health. I know of nurses who brought an extra set of scrubs and changed clothes in the hospital before leaving. I know nurses who, on arriving home, have changed in the garage and immediately took their potentially contaminated scrubs to their washing machines for cleaning.
Unfortunately, this particular nurse who chose to violate hospital policy has now received a complaint from the Board.
Anyone can file a complaint against a nurse and the Board will subsequently investigate to determine whether the file should be closed or the action on the complaint should proceed.
I have represented nurses who have taken from their hospital IV supplies for hydration and the Board considers that as theft. Just borrowing hospital-provided scrubs which you don’t take home and are still laundered by the hospital … well, I’m not sure what the Board will think.
Unfortunately, this nurse now is unable to get a new job. He believes he has been “blackballed.” However, this nurse has been very vocal in publicizing his case on a website and on Twitter.
Hospitals do check you out and especially so with social media. Would they want to hire a nurse who knowingly violated hospital policy?
If you want to make change, make it the appropriate way and be careful what you put on social media. What are your thoughts about this matter? Comment below please.
Toña Bobb says
It is unfortunate that this nurse was terminated.
It is also very unfortunate that the nurses at that facility were not allowed to wear facility provided scrubs while working in the ER, in particular. Without it being stated in the article, I can only assume that this policy was cost driven and the nurse likely would not have been able to change it as a “Lone Ranger”. Although I do understand and empathize with his frustration and concern for safety, I would have to agree with Lorie that violating hospital policy was not the way to go and after receiving a warning perhaps should have resigned and moved on voluntarily. While a termination was the result, it seems rather punitive for this to have become a nursing board issue as well.
Their policy is wrong. The board is wrong if they pursue this matter. Nurses deserve to be safe at work. You failed to mention he file a lawsuit for wrongful termination. The hospital then reported him to the board. Sometimes you do have to take a stand which is what he did. Actually that was retaliation. Nurses do have rights.
I am so confused? Are comments not considered as social media? Should we or should we not comment on social media about the controversial topic you have raised on social since you advised us not to comment on social media?
Kinda crazy in a since. If he didn’t steal the scrubs what harm was really done? Sounds like the hospital could have discussed the issue and come up with a proposal. I would have either brought my concerns to my manager if they were decent, or talk with an Infectious disease doctor or the infectious disease clinician for the hospital and see what they have to say about it. Otherwise I would have changed my clothes before I left the hospital. You just have to pick your battles.
LORIE A BROWN, R.N., M.N., J.D. says
This is the best comment! The difference with commenting on blog posts is you don’t have to use your name. You can do it anonymously. Whereas your Facebook page usually has your name.
Lt Col C Nirmala iyer says
Its unethical for hospitals to deny scrub for nurses on duty .Professional bodies like state nursing council should take up this matter for justice to the nursing professionals.