Long-Term Care Nurse Fired for Not Falsifying Documentation

A long-term care nurse shared that her facility was accused of negligence in failing to use bed rails properly to prevent residents from falling out of bed.

The report was denied by the organization. As a result, the RN was asked to complete an assessment of the entire facility for bed rail use. The RN did the assessment and documented her results.

According to the RN, the administrator told her bed rails were not to be used to define the parameters of a resident bed, and that if the bed rails were being used to prevent a resident from falling, they should be removed.

A resident’s family member raised a concern about the removal of the bed rails from her sister’s bed. The administrator denied that the bed rails were removed intentionally by staff. The resident was found deceased on the floor the next day, and the RN was asked to change her documentation of her assessment. She refused.

Subsequently, the RN was confronted by the administrator who said she had failed to do the assessment (although the RN says she found her assessment in the facility shredder box). The RN was also accused of not updating patient care plans, but she stated she had, in fact, done this and had taken screen shots of her updates. The administrator had another RN change the documentation done initially by the RN in question.

Three days later, the RN was terminated. Her question is whether or not she should report the facility and those involved.

Consulting an Attorney

The first step for this RN should be to seek a consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney whose practice consists of representing nurses and other staff in long-term care.

A consultation is essential not only in fashioning a report about the facility, but also to protect the RN. The submitted question is not entirely clear, and the facility’s motivation for removing bed rails (if the RN’s account is accurate) is quite disturbing.

What seems apparent is that there was an attempt to make the RN cooperate with the administrator and the other nurse in concealing the initial mandate to remove bed rails and in the death of the resident due to the bed rail situation.

The attorney will most likely discuss the federal Nursing Home Reform Act with the RN. This act requires that nursing homes provide quality care, protect residents from all forms of abuse and neglect, and spell out residents’ rights. Any nursing home receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds must comply with these standards.

In addition, the attorney will also review the state’s nursing home care act with the RN. This act and its official name may vary from state to state, but like the federal law, it lists residents’ rights and protects them from abuse and neglect.

Each act contains provisions for the enforcement of the act’s requirements when a violation occurs and where the violation is to be reported. For a list of each state law, click here.

Protecting the Nurse

The attorney will also focus …read more

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