disciplinary action

  1. on 2/17 i received a da regarding something that happened in oct 2003...i had never been councelled nor "written up" about it. i work in a state psychiatric hospitial - the charges, "divulging confidential info without proper authority", and hippa.

    we have a doctors communication books which we leave short notes, i let an pt write a note to the medical dr in his book, i covered any writing and stood side by side as the pt wrote " her own complaints.....divulged conf.info because the communication book contained sensitive and conf. info.about a number of patients on the unit"

    i admit to poor judgement, but never divulging info. on other patients. for this they want a 10 day susppesion:angryfire the semi-informal hearing is march 18th. i have union representation.
    any help or suggestions?
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   canoehead
    Sounds like you DIDN't divulge confidential information, so you are safe. Get a lawyer anyway, though.
  4. by   sjc
    Quote from canoehead
    Sounds like you DIDN't divulge confidential information, so you are safe. Get a lawyer anyway, though.

    Would not a lawyer cost more than the possible suspension?
  5. by   canoehead
    Yep, but less than losing your license.

    Definitely less than that job you lose down the road because you have a decision against you.

    And if it was me I would want to keep my reputation squeaky clean, as would most nurses I know.
  6. by   elkpark
    I think the question will be whether you can PROVE that you didn't divulge privileged information when you allowed the patient to have access to the book. I work as a surveyor/investigator in mental health for my state and the Feds, and, when we are investigating possible regulation violations, we are not allowed to just accept someone's word for it that they did or didn't do something (like whether you covered up the info related to other patients). There has to be some kind of hard evidence or documentation to back up what the person says.

    I know there have been other threads recently about the pros and cons of individual liability insurance, and this is one example of why it's good to have your own liability coverage. Yes, you may want to talk to a lawyer (is your "union representation" a lawyer, or just a steward to appear with you?)

    The HIPAA regulations are v. serious business -- I have seen people get fired over first-time violations (I am NOT saying that I am sure you have committed a violation or that you could get fired! Just that I have seen it happen in other situations.) What a scary situation for you -- best wishes with the hearing! {{{sjc}}} (Did I do "hugs" right?)
  7. by   canoehead
    So the burden of proof isn't on the accuser?
  8. by   LydiaGreen
    Quote from canoehead
    So the burden of proof isn't on the accuser?
    GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT is more like it
  9. by   elkpark
    GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT is more like it
    Sounds harsh, I know, but it's pretty much true. "Innocent until proven guilty" applies to the criminal justice system, which we are not talking about in this situation. Remember that the purpose of all the state and federal regulations is to protect the public, not healthcare providers. In my agency, we go into the hospital with an open mind and no preconceptions (as much as possible given that we're all human beings ... ), and look for evidence or documentation that supports or disproves the allegations. But, as I said, we can't accept someone's say-so as "evidence."

    Look at it this way: If a family member of yours were harmed in a hospital and you complained to my agency about it, would you want us to go into the hospital, ask staff about it, and, when they said, "Oh, nooo, we didn't do anything like that ...", say, "Okay then, thanks for clearing that up for us" and be on our way? How good a job of protecting the public would we be doing?

    For better or worse (depending on how you look at it), I and the rest of us surveyors are the living embodiment of the old healthcare adage, "If it isn't documented, it didn't happen."

    I hope you will get some good advice before the hearing, do everything you can to be prepared, and best wishes for the 18th!!
  10. by   sjoe
    Excellent advice by Elk, particularly about having one's own malpractice insurance. Way too many employees think that their employers will look out for them when a crunch comes or that their BONs (or unions) will come to their aid. WRONG!

    Secondly, as Elk pointed out, firing someone does not have to be a criminal procedure with criminal court rules. Most nurses are at-will employees and can be fired at any time for any reason AND complaints and criticisms filed against them with their BONs without having to meet criminal standards of proof.

    Third, the state boards of nursing are NOT there to protect nurses, but as Elk said, "Remember that the purpose of all the state and federal regulations is to protect the public, not healthcare providers."

    As always:

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