I recently took care of a pt for several months who was a known drug dealer and pimp. It is suspected that this patient was conducting " business" from his hospital bed, making arrangements via visitors and telephone calls. However, none of the staff had any real proof. The pt has since passed away but for future reference, I want to know: What is the nurse's responsibility when a pt is suspected of conducting criminal activity while an inpatient? Do we advocate for the pt as a nurse or do we advocate for ourselves as private citizens?
May 31, '03
IMHO only, I believe that as Citizens we have an obligation to report suspected criminal activity to the police.
I do not believe that we as citizens nor nurses are required to investigate nor provide proof before reporting this. That is what the police and District Attorney are for, I thought.
I do not see how there can be any legal ramifications for reporting our suspicions and observations. I believe that sometimes we might be asked to assist in an investigation after reporting something, but I don't think we are obligated to assist especially it our part in the investigation will put us at risk.
A hospital is either private property or (if government owned) state, county or federal property (depending on which gov entity owns it.
We have a right to not have criminal activity being committed on our property or on (our) gov. property. The hospital may not belong to me personally but I represent the hospital and there foe the as a rep of the hospital I have a right and responsiblity to protect it.
If I thought some criminal activity was taking place on MY private property or on my private business property you can bet I would report it to law enforcement. I am entitled to reasonable protection and freedom from criminal activity.
I do not understand where advocating for the patient comes into the picture here. What is it you want to advocate for?
Second when a patient is admitted to a hospital it is implied that he will comply with the rules of the institution and that he understands that this is not the Hilton, and the focus is on medical treatment not luxuary hotel service. Natuarally we try to accomodate all patients as much as possible however it needs to be understood that does not go to the point that it disrupts work or care of other patients.
I believe this issure harms more than just the nurse as a private citizen, it harms the hospital as well. Imagine if it got out that there was this sort of thing going on at XYZ Hospital. The hospital's reputation would be harmed. The hospital would be up for investigation for allowing it to go on without reporting it. The hospital could be implicated in supporting this activity. It also makes the hospital vulnerable to more criminal activity takeing place there. It becomes an easy mark. Even if no crime took place, because it is now understood that the hospital does not report it's susupicions.
Sounds to me like someone really slipped on on this one. It sounds like folks were intimidated by this patient. To the point that they were blinded by the fact that the hospital had power in this situation. The power of the hospital was turned over to this patient.
I know if a cop or DA comes and demands information without following proper procedures or without a warrent that we as nurses cant just give it to them. This is not that situation. THis is a situation where we are reporting a suspected crime.
If there were a guest in my home I would try to protect their privavcy. If I suspect they were commiting a crime in my home I think my rights as a home owner then take presidence.
If this were an employee I bet no one would hesitate to report thier suspicions to the police. This is no different.
He was allowed to get away with what he did because folks did not understand thier rights, the rights of the hospital, the law, nor that the hospital and nurses had the right to expect the visitors andpatient to abide by the rules and proceedures of the institution
Last edit by Agnus on May 31, '03