False accusations

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    I am just wondering if anyone has ever had false accusations made against them. It just happened to me and I can't believe it. What I think really happened was that I notified the dr's and supervisor that a new patient was going down the tubes and nothing was being done for him by the doctors and I was very concerned. I wonder if that patient died or crashed and they don't want me to testify for the familiy. I am currently looking for an attorney but I don't know if the cost will be worth it. On the other hand I haven't missed a days work, my agency immediately booked me at another facility and I will be getting paid more there. Do I just continue on like nothing happened or do I take a stand since I am being falsely accused of hitting a patient?

    Any feedback would be welcome.

    Thanks
  2. 17 Comments so far...

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    thanks for the reply, yes I did chart to cover my butt almost exactly as you said which is why I feel they are running scared to cover theirs. On a up note, my agency rebooked me at another facility at $4.00 hr. more and a long term contract too!!! My agency knows this is ridiclious, I have a perfect record and never had one complaint against me in 8 yrs. I feel very angry at being falsley accused but I feel strong in knowing I did not do anything wrong and I am happy that my agency has faith in me and found me a better assignment.
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    Don't hesitate in contact legal counsel regarding being falsely accused of hitting a patient. This type of accusation could cause problems with your licensure as a nurse. In many states there is a statuate of limitations addressing empolyee disputes, You need to check with the Equal Rights Labor Relations Agency for your individual state. It's common place in nursing for false accusations/lies, unfortunately.
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    I can share a similiar incident that occurred with one of our nurses. As the nurse manager of the agency, I received a call from a hospital rep that one of our nurses was no longer allowed back to the facility. After some questioning, I discovered that someone told this hospital rep that the agency nurse had stolen some drugs at another hospital and quit before it was discovered. As a nurse manager, I was concerned and discussed it with the agency nurse who was furious and denied it completely. He also conceded to a drug test. I typed a report for him to utilize as he wished with the information- he took it straight to a lawyer and served the hospital with a cease and desist (sp?) order. Subsequently, the hospital was much more careful in the future with barring a nurse the right to work in their facility. Many benefited from his investment of time and money.

    Additionally, I would not let the amount of time passed make you complacent about the event. It could be months before the Board contacted you about the event, if anyone reported it. Rarely, is the agency contacted except to request a copy of the personnel file.
    caliotter3 likes this.
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    BadBird
    Before you go and pay for a lawyer consider this. Do you have nurses malpractice insurance? I know my insurance provides lawyer services. You need to contact your carrier to let them know of the problem and see what they can do for you. Even if you are covered by insurance through your agency, ask about contacting them. I know my carrier requests to be notified if I think there may be a problem
    If you don't have any insuranc, get some!! Even if you know you have good nursing practice, you can't control others or all situations. (P.S. I am in no way affiliated with an insurance co. I just believe in protecting myself and what little I have!)
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    I remember when I was in nursing school that we were taught to always have nursing insurance. However, when I went back to school for my healthcare administration degree- my Legal course actually advised against it. The exact quote was, "Do you know what you call healthcare providers with personal insurance? Defendants." The theory is that fault of an incident must be traced to a source of substantial monetary value (physician/malpractice insurance, hospital, agency, etc.) Of course, the agency has truckloads of insurance- as does the hospital. I feel fairly confident that our insurance would not offset the personal expense for a lawyer in the case described here, but we have in other cases that potentially involved the agency- hence the reason for the insurance. Incidentally, the cost of this insurance is one of the primary causes for small (usually nurse owned) agencies to fail.
    Last edit by caduca on Apr 12, '02
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    Caduca,
    That is very interesting. When I went to nursing school 4 years ago, they recommended we carry insurance no matter where we were working. The reasoning was that a hospital's (or agency's) insurance is going to fight to defend the hospital/agency not you. Since I haven't actually been in this situation I don't know the particulars of how this works, and it may be different from state to state. But thanks for the info. My insurance provider is Professional Buyers Guild, I will be contacting them to ask a few questions now.
    I wonder, in the line of reasoning you were taught, are "they" saying that if you don't have the $$ then the suit will likely just be dropped against you? What about losing the things you do have, i.e. your home, cars, property. What about simply going into debt (and deeply if it is a drawn out case)? I sure would like to hear more from you.
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    Vette, undoubtedly your insurance provider will subscribe to your need to have insurance. For a neutral opinion, I suggest calling a medical defense attorney (and not the one assigned to defend your hospital- but someone completely neutral). Example: A patient dies due to a medication error. Who are they going to sue- the physician, the hospital, the pharmacist, or the nurse? They want to get the biggest $$ amount they can get. Hospitals carry about a 3 million dollar policy (usually). Wouldn't it be more advantageous for them to prove that the hosptial's policy and procedures were not substantial enough to protect the patient from undue harm, than to prove you are a bad nurse? Actually, if they prove you are a bad nurse and that you as an individual caused the problem, then that would make finding fault with the hospital harder. Why would they want to do that (unless your house, car, clothes, or insurance policy, etc are worth 3 million)? Sometimes, multiple persons are sued- but as I demonstrated above the nurse's involvement is usually stated as the hospital's neglect. The physician is almost always sued as well, rather he/she were present or not. You are also correct in assuming the hospital's insurance does nothing for you personally- after all, if the hospital is going to try to prove they did everything right- then perhaps you are a bad nurse- and a nice nursing insurance policy may make that a more convincing case to the party bringing the suit. The absolute best thing a nurse can do to prevent being sued- smile, be polite, and admit when there has been a mistake to the patient. I appreciate your reply- thanks.
    Last edit by caduca on Apr 14, '02
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    Thanks to all who responded. Here is my update. The hospital did not write anything up because nothing happened, which I am sure they know now. However, I would never work there again if they kissed my a--! I have moved on to another facility and and quite happy. The hospital DON could not tell my agency who accused me, who the patient was supposed to be, what date it happened, or what the actual accusation was. How bogus is that! When I asked for a written statement of the alledged accusations, they could not provide one, apparently no one could remember anything. The DON told my agency a date she thought a nurse told her but I did not work for them during that period. Well, that incident left a bad feeling for other agency nurses and I was told by a friend that 3 refuse to work for that hospital at all and another refuses to work in that unit.
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    Glad it worked out!


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