Nurse Receives No Support From Leadership About Patient’s Complaint

An RN was accused of being “mean” to a patient in the PACU. The patient had no complaints during her visit in the PACU but went to human resources to voice her complaints.

The RN is recorded stating that she received no details about the patient’s complaint when asked for them even though HR sought to “write her up” with the potential for termination. The RN’s relationship with her director was not in good standing, and her supervisor was “afraid” to support her. She wondered what her rights were under these circumstances.

False allegations against nurses, regardless of the setting, are not new. I have written about this issue several times over the years. Handling these types of allegations are somewhat easier when you are supported by your nursing administrators and HR. However, when such support is missing, as was the case with this RN, rectifying the false claims is more difficult.

Patient’s Complaint is not the Only Issue

Because there seems to be a rift between the RN and her director and her supervisor is afraid to support her, the first thing this RN should do is contact a nurse attorney or her personal attorney for advice on how to proceed.

This consultation does not need to be shared with nursing administration, nor would you need to share this if you were in her shoes.

You always have the right to seek legal advice when a workplace issue arises. This is particularly so when administration is not supportive and there is no other support mechanism, such as a union.

The attorney consulted would need to review employment documents such as the employee handbook, disciplinary policy and procedure, the grievance policy and procedure, and performance evaluations.

The RN stated that she no bad evaluations, so this may be an indication that her concerns about her relationships with the director, supervisor, or HR are affecting their fair and unbiased assessment of the complaints lodged against the RN.

If either of their assessments is based on a discriminatory motive, such as the RN’s race or religion, the attorney would evaluate a possible case alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Moreover, if the disciplinary policy and procedure has not been followed by the director, HR, and the supervisor, the attorney can intervene to ensure that the policy is adhered to. Although the RN has not yet been disciplined, it may be that a proper investigation into the complaints has not occurred as the policy and procedure requires, for example.

Also, the RN has not been given the details of the patient’s complaint. This is inconsistent with basic principles of fairness between an employer and an employee.

Despite the fact that the RN may be an “at-will” employee (meaning she has no employment contract), not sharing details about the complaint may violate the implied contract of fair dealing between the employer and the RN.

If she is terminated under these circumstances, the attorney can file a wrongful termination case.

An Additional Concern

Another potential issue for this RN — …read more

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