I desperately need advice

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    i am a fairly new rn, of about 1 yr. my current position in the er is the first rn job i have had. i am bright and love asking/finding answers to my questions. i feel like my position enables me to learn new things on a daily basis, and i think i am quick to learn and i am sincere in my belief of treating others the way i want to be treated.

    so, here is my problem... my presence was requested to my manager's office recently. i have only spoken to this person 3-4 times, for no longer than 10-20 min per conversation (she started about 4 months ago). i was told that "other people" around me, that i work with- believe that i have been acting strangely? no specific "ways of acting odd" were specified. i listened intently, trying to figure out what alternate world i had stepped in to?? i have never been in trouble? anywhere? for anything?? as i continued to listen, i was asked, "is there anything you need to tell me." of course i replied with a firm and sincere, "no." and...................here's where i think it went wrong....fast...i was then asked if i had started taking any new medication? then, to beat all---i was asked "what medications do you take and why do you take them" (i don't think this is right?) i honestly replied with "no" once again. i sat there confused for a few moments, until.....the light went off in the ole' noodle. they think i'm on drugs?? do they really think that? yep! (fyi, i have not, will not ever "do drugs") being the naive 24yo that i am, i immediately without thinking said i have a medical condition (that i see my pcp for) and is being treated with medication. (i was more specific, stating what medical condition and what medication). i was then told, that the "odd behavior" apparently was "observed" in the past 3-4 months. i responded, once again without a pause (or filter for that matter); i have been taking this particular med for about 1 year now! why the sudden interest in me?? then, to my surprise.....i was told that i would have to be drug tested! are you serious!! i even snickered a little when i said "sure"!! i knew that not only would i pass with flying colors, but i would make them all look like foolish children for singling me out. i do not dislike anyone i work with, and i have felt like in the past, that the same respect was given to me----until this day, when she said "this has come from multiple people? "

    here is my major issue....i was suspended until the results were complete (2days) btw-they were negative (wooo, big surprise) haha
    furthermore, and most seriously...this is illegal right? to ask what condition and what med????? i am asking for help, because i simply do not know where to turn or what to do? i do not like to make waves, and i certainly do not deserve to be humiliated and treated like a criminal because, people enjoy being mean and causing conflict. i am hurt beyond hurt. i feel like i was singled out because of a medical condition, and was even told that "management was unsure if i had enough training, or knew how to properly do my job!" but why is this just now an issue? i just don't want to go back please, i know that i have rambled out of sheer anger and profound embarrassment-and many of this may not make sense---i am willing to answer any question you may have, so that i may receive some/any help on how to deal with this issue. i sincerely appreciate you reading this, and keeping a innocent stranger in your prayers
    Rabid Response likes this.
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  3. 18 Comments so far...

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    I am sorry that you are going though this. I would consider looking around for another job. Sounds like someone has something out for you, best to leave before they figure out how to fire you. but, wait until you have this mess cleared up so it doesn't look like you left in fear of being caught doing something.
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    I hate to sound hyperbolic, but your job and, perhaps, your career are in jeopardy! I have seen witch hunts in nursing. The victim of the persecution is often an innocent scape-goat or simply a pawn in some political war they no nothing about. If, as you idicated, you have done nothing wrong, you need to take this very seriously. The time for collecting opinions in a nursing forum is over. You need to consult an attorney and follow their advice.

    Best of luck and I sincerely hope things turn out okay!
    netglow and fungez like this.
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    ElseeRN:

    First, allow me to convey my empathy for you in this difficult time. I hesitate little to term this action "harrassment".

    I truly appreciate gentlegiver and lifetimeRN's advice. They have given valid obtions for you to consider.

    However, having been in a similiar circumstance, and eventually leaving that position for another, I made sure my record was cleansed of ANY negativity. I was lucky, in that, the nurses at thais particular facility were unionized. The union worked for me, and although it took a year and a half, any alledged wrongdoing was sponged from my record.

    If you're right, you're right.

    Check out the harrassment policy in your facility. See if your situation meets any criteria. Continue to seek assistance. And, please, keep us appraised of your progress.

    Good luck and the best to you.
    Zookeeper3 likes this.
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    Do you belong to a union? If so, talk to your rep. Then, since I'm no expert on labor law, I would second the other posters advice about speaking to a lawyer and finding greener pastures right quick. You may not have done anything wrong, you may be the best new grad in the country, but that will be small consolation when this petty organization ruins you.

    Good luck, you have my best wishes.
  8. 1
    That sounds like a witch hunt all right. At least get an opinion of an attorney-preferably a nurse/attorney. I think you've got a big old sign saying kick me on your back. Also I'd talk with your pcp again and get a note saying your medical condition is privileged information.
    netglow likes this.
  9. 20
    First, BE MAD, not HURT!
    Perhaps I can help a bit....I work in Occupational Health (not in a hospital), but processes are the same. A facility can do a "for cause" drug test any time they see a need. For cause means that someone, somewhere has identified behavior that they believe puts (whomever-patients, co-workers, the company) at risk. And that also means they have run it through the channels (meaning the Human Resource people) and notified them there may be a problem. They ask you, when they tell you that you will be drug tested, if you have any need to tell them anything. (According to the process, that gives you the chance to self-identify as needing to enter a treatment program. At this point, if people lie and do not self identify, then turn up positive, there is no other chance to enter treatment and remain employed.) That is the process, and that is how it is done. What is NOT done is for the manager to ask you if you take medications and if so, what for. They have just violated your civil rights. You not only need to be paid for the days that you were suspended, you need to seek legal advice (as mentioned above-a nurse attorney would be great). Your attorney should push for specifics re: the details of who saw you and what the behavior was that they were concerned about. Your personal medical information is YOUR personal medical info. Remember HIPAA? What ever you told her re: your personal medical information was documented somewhere and read by others! IF you had turned up positive on a drug screen, the MEDICAL REVIEW OFFICER (MRO) would have called you to speak with you re: any Rx medication, etc. That is the job of an MRO. It would have been at THAT time that you would have provided medical documentation from your MD to the MRO only. No other person would have known about anything related to your discussion or any info. provided to the MRO-it is strictly confidential. You need to tell your legal counsel that you were intimidated and felt pressured to tell your manager about details of your personal medical info that were none of her business. I agree that your career there is likely over. HOWEVER, I have seen managers go off half-cocked, thinking they can do this and that re: employees that are, for some reason, viewed as a problem. She will likely be disciplined (or at least I would hope so!) Because the breach of protocol here was so flagrant, it is possible that you can ask for a settlement because you feel that you were harrassed and no longer feel comfortable working around a bunch of people that reported you as having "altered behavior" or unsafe behavior, when there was no such incident. This is not intended to be legal advice, that needs to come from your legal counsel. However, drug testing policy and protocol is standard, and there can be no deviation from proper protocol. Good luck, and please update this posting so that we know what has happened to you. Begin searching out job opportunities at other hospitals right away!
    Last edit by katkonk on Jun 30, '10 : Reason: grammatical error
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    I have a couple of questions, but I want to assure you that I don't mean to be insulting. Frankly, I don't even need answers to them, but I hope you will try to answer them honestly to yourself. First, is it possible that someone might really have seen your behavior as odd? I ask because I work nights, and I sometimes see things I'd be very concerned about on days, but only mildly concerned about on nights. If I see a coworker starting to nod off, I've done it myself, so my first thought isn't that they are on drugs. My assumption is that they didn't get enough sleep, which happens to all of us at one time or another.
    So we back each other up to make sure drowsiness doesn't impair judgement, then all is back to normal the next night. If someone were excessively drowsy on a recurring basis, we'd probably look at finding a more suitable shift before we'd think about drug testing. Anyway, is it possible something along those lines is causing concern?
    Perhaps more pertinently, you mention that this is your first job. Are you sure you are ready for it? ER is a tough place to start out. Usually, people have a fair amount of acute care experience before moving into a critical care position. Are you often swamped? Overwhelmed? (I think I would be!) Is it possible you might need some med-surg experience, or even (like me) you're better suited to a med-surg environment? The behavior you've described by your manager doesn't exactly inspire a ton of confidence, but is there a chance you could discuss with her the possibility of transfer to an acute care floor? You can learn a lot when you have the opportunity to follow a group of patients through a few days of care. Each assessment builds upon the previous one and you get a much better picture of what's going on than I think you could assessing and then sitting on a patient for an hour or to. Maybe following the process a bit longer would help you access your ability, eventually, to see the "big picture" at first contact.
    Just a couple of thoughts, and best wishes. I hope it works out for you.
  11. 0
    Honestly I know other people are talking about bringing in an attorney, but if you do that, you're not going to want to work there anymore anyway. I am sorry you have been singled out, and I don't know much about the laws around what happened to you, but you should sit down with this person again and ask them why they did this! It's not right, so you should tell them what you know now and make them give you a straight answer this time, none of this "well we saw odd behavior" crap. Tell them you do your job well, you have never been in trouble, and ask what exactly people are reporting! Obviously some of these people are just out to get you, so don't let them get you! This is all my personal opinion! And I will keep you in my prayers
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    I agree with KatKonk, your rights were violated!! As a manager, I cannot ask any of my employees if they are taking medications or have any sort of medical condition. You should file a formal complaint with your HR department and/or a lawyer. Drug testing is allowed for any reasoning including suspicious or changed behavior, but is usually done by Employee Health and subsequent questioning regarding health issues can be discussed, as well as your rights as it pertains to applying for and receiving FMLA, etc.


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