Bad, Bad Incident. Can you refuse to work a particular unit?

  1. Last night a pt smuggled blades into her room. She was found with slit wrists, bleeding all over.
    I'm wondering if it's possible to refuse work on a unit. I'm designated as a Float nurse (not what I asked for), between two units that I like, and somehow I got floated to unit that is nearby but not 'mine'. Thing is, the unit is totally out of control. When we took report yesterday, the day shift nurse had tears in her eyes, saying 'I don't know what's going on anymore", because the hospital is going thru a philosophy change and some rules are being bent, some not enforced, etc. Nobody seems to know what's going on! Example, apparently a teenage pt has made multiple sexual accusations against both male and female staff. I have not been on this unit in months, and no one told me. So of course, I'm doing an assessment behind closed doors for privacy, and a nurse comes in a reprimands me and warns me about being alone with pt. In fact, her words were, 'next thing you know, you'll be looking at child molestation charges'. And NOBODY warned me!
    The unit is not safe, this has been going on a long time. Tons of potantial liability b/c no one knows the new rules versus the old rules. The regular nurses say they have begged for support from admin, and haven't gotten any. Do I have to work on an unsafe unit?
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   oramar
    Obviously you need to get away from that unit someway, somehow.
  4. by   AuntieRN
    OMG if I was those nurses I would be running for the hills before I lost my license. Can't someone report this to the state or something? There has to be something someone can do. I feel awful for you and am sorry you were put in that position.
  5. by   Jolie
    Quote from Meerkat
    Do I have to work on an unsafe unit?

    No, and in my opinion, it is irresponsible to do so. Nurses who accept these assignments put their licenses at risk, their patients at risk, and enable administration to get away with providing substandard care because they will lay the blame on the nurses if something goes wrong.

    You do not have to accept an unsafe assignment, but you must be prepared to be disciplined or lose your job over your refusal.
  6. by   TazziRN
    Hmm.....my understanding is that you cannot refuse an assignment, but you can do it under protest. Meer, I think I'd be looking for another job if I wuz you.....
  7. by   mamason
    I was told you could refuse an unsafe assignment. As long as you didn't take report on the pt/pt's. You could sign an "assignment despite objection" form. But, I think that they are for union nurses. I'm not clear on these forms.I was told to be prepared to lose my job if I was refusing the assignment. But, no job is worth losing my license over. Or jeopardizing a pt's well being for that matter. If the facility is in chaos and the unit is out of control, I'd start looking for another job and soon. Do not put yourself in such a vunerable position.
  8. by   texas_lvn
    Quote from mamason
    But, no job is worth losing my license over. Or jeopardizing a pt's well being for that matter. If the facility is in chaos and the unit is out of control, I'd start looking for another job and soon. Do not put yourself in such a vunerable position.

    I know you were upset about the child incident. I am praying for you. If needed, I would file for bankrupcy before I went back to that job! Let us know how it all pans out. No matter if you are an LVN or a MSN, you worked hard for your license. This is your livelyhood. Do you want to jeapordize it? Good luck.
  9. by   CHATSDALE
    i would talk with your immediate supervisor and express your concerns and your feelings about returning to that unit

    however i believe that a new job is the best solution..if they run short they are going to be looking around for a warm body and i am sure that the other nurses have similiar feelings about working under those conditions

    good luck
  10. by   Meerkat
    Thanks for the suggestions. A new job just isn't possible right now. I just bought a house and I will not find an equal paying job somewhere else in this field. I've been away from med-surg for quite awhile and would have to take one of those 're-fresh courses' and start out again on the bottom rung. I love psych, but this one is the only game in town that can pay what I need to survive. I don't mean to sound like a nay-sayer---I just feel stuck. Does anyone know where I can look up the Florida BON statutes on refusing an unsafe assignment?
    Thank you again...love you guys.
  11. by   RebeccaJeanRN
    I don't believe you can refuse to work on an 'unsafe unit', because thats heresay. In other words, its really only rumor that its unsafe (albeit a rumor that appears to be based in fact). In theory, a nurse can say that about any unit she didn't like (that she 'heard' that the unit is not supervised well, that there is dissatisfaction among nurses, no peer support, risky patients, etc.) So...you probably need to just get the heck out of that place. I believe that is it a liability claim against your license just waiting to happen. Explore your options about not floating anymore, just in case any exist. If no options at present place of employment, then work somewhere, anywhere else. The quicker the better.
  12. by   Meerkat
    PS I spoke with the Director today, she said that she would clarify some stuff for the unit, but I'm not too hopeful. This has been going on for months and I'm a nervous wreck that this kid is going to make allegations against me while I was in the room with her. I had to call in today for my own mental health.
  13. by   Meerkat
    [[Explore your options about not floating anymore, just in case any exist. ]]

    Great idea. Thanks.

    Just an FYI, the unit isn't unsafe on hearsay. There are active lawsuits, at least 2, happening right now. Upstairs, on the acute psych floor that houses sociopaths and psychotic schizophrenics, I feel much safer. Kin of ironic, huh!
  14. by   PANurseRN1
    Is this the same unit as the one with the "gross out co-worker"?

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