Nursing has a strange professional culture. We have to work together to get the job done, but ultimately I feel very alone. No one wants to be responsible when something goes wrong and people are quick to point the finger at some one else. The most experienced nurses seem to have a special talent for interpreting potentially bad situations into something more benign. As a new nurse I look up to my co-workers, but I am learning to keep my distance. Recently, I was horrified when another nurse blamed me for a mistake she had made. I was involved in the situation, but I did what I was supposed to do. I have heard the saying, "Nurses eat their young," but never encountered that kind of attitude. I have been welcomed and supported. Now I feel betrayed by this other nurse.
This is the situation -
Evening shift, toward the end of the night. I was working, in the room of a resident passing meds, when a CNA called out for me in the hall. One of the other residents had fallen. I rushed to the scene, but I was calm because I knew what to do. Falls are a fairly common occurrence in nursing homes. Tho potentially very very bad because of the possibility of breaking a hip, people normally get back up with minimal damage - a bruise or a sore bottom. I assessed the resident, took vitals, (all normal, no c/o pain, ROM WNL, no bruising, able to bear weight) and had the CNA take the resident back to her room to lay down. So my next action would have been to call the Dr. and alert the family, and then fill out an incident report.
However, the resident that fell was actually assigned to the other nurse that was working with me (we have two nurses per floor in my facility). When the resident fell, the other nurse was on break so of course I stepped in to assess. But the nurse came back from break just after the resident was put in bed, so I told her the situation and gave her report of my assessment. She then told me that she had given the resident a sleeping pill earlier, so that was probably why she was woosy. I went back and finished the med pass on my hall. Later that night, I noticed that the other nurse had not filled out an incident report and when she gave report she told the night nurse that the resident was kind of woosy and slumped over but didn't really fall. At the time, I was surprised, but said nothing because this other nurse has more experience than I (Tho she is a new nurse too, having worked only about a year and a half).
Guess what ... The next day, the resident had an "unexplained" bruise on her hip that her family, who just happened to visit, noticed! The CNAs explained to the family that the resident had fallen. The family was angry because they were not notified. The same nurse I had worked with that night was working when the family came to visit, so she explained the situation... but GUESS what she said..
She told the family that no one told her the resident had fallen!! Lie! I had told her, the CNAs had told her. Why would I have given her my assessment and taken vitals on the resident if the resident had just been "woosy"? I went with her to the resident's room when she did her assessment of the resident. I know she didn't witness the fall, but neither did I. I would have gladly done the incident report and notified the family, but she took over and I went back to my med pass. She was done with her med pass. I had no idea that she wasn't going to fill out an incident report ... and I felt unsure what to say when I realized she hadn't done one.
Then she comes to me with her friend the Charge RN from Day Shift - they're both looking at me like I'm the idiot who caused the problem - and I get politely chewed out. I tried to explain that it wasn't the way the other nurse said, that I had very clearly told her "_____ fell." and taken vitals and done an assessment and turned it over to her. But somehow the truth was twisted around and I got blamed. They were even very nice about it and acted like I was just a poor dumb new nurse. The Charge RN helped the other nurse to chart everything very specifically as an "unwitnessed fall" and the DON was notified... so that no one would get into trouble... officially, I am not even mentioned in the report. However, the more I think about it, the more it makes me angry.
I really believe that the other nurse was tired, didn't want to talk to the resident's demanding family, and made a bad judgment call to not report the situation as a fall by justifying it in her head with the idea that the resident was just "woosy" from the sleeping pill. This other nurse is a really nice person - great with the residents and always going above and beyond to help other nurses... but she was scared for herself and used me to cover for her mistake! I felt like it was high school~! I couldn't believe the way she behaved. The worst part is that I think she acted the way she did because of the pressure she was under as a nurse and not because she is a totally evil person. Maybe it was easier for a person like me to be blamed - but I was used.
Am I being naive or is this kind of thing truly caused by the pressure that nurses are under? It really disgusts me.
In the future, how do I respond to/prevent a situation like this?