I don't know what to do

  1. I have been working at my hospital on the med/surg floor for eight months now. I had a patient with fussy family a few days ago and I expected that they would file a complaint because nothing we did was good enough. I went in to pickup my paycheck today and my team leader stopped me and asked me about that particular patient. Sure enough, they had filed a complaint against all the nurses who took care of the patient, not just me. My manager said that a nurse who fits my description was reported for "doing nothing but playing solitiare" by this family. I emphatically assured my team leader that not only did I not play solitaire that day, I have actually never played solitaire on any of the computers in the hospital. After I told her I wasn't guilty, she said for me not to play solitaire anymore. So we spent a couple of minutes going round and round and I kept telling her that I do not play games while on the clock. She told me a couple of times that "the folks downstairs didn't take very well to that complaint." I asked her several times what that was supposed to mean and she never would tell me, she just kept repeating the statement over and over. She never did believe me that I do not play games on the clock. She told me that she told the administrators that no one else on the floor fits my description so it had to be me. She didn't take up for me at all. I work very hard, as do most nurses on our floor. I don't know what to do. They have fired people for small reasons before and now I am afraid they will be watching over my shoulder picking me apart. I don't know what to do. As nurses, please give me your opinion. I feel like this is a very big deal that she didn't even attempt to take up for me and really slammed me to the administrators. Is it time to get a new job? And if so, do I resign immediately or give a notice? Or do I try to talk to her again???
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   mugwump
    I wouldn't worry about it so much. I understand you want to stand up for yourself that you didn't do it, but it sounds like you, you didn't do it once and that would have been that, but you kept brining it up that you hadn't. Also keep in mind that you know they reported someone fitting your description playing solitair thats all you know they could have reported someone else matching another description doing somethning else, also keep in mind they complained on EVERY nurse that took care of them. (not very credible if they can't even find one person they liked if you ask me) I would let this one drop unless they bring it up again.
  4. by   Goldenhare
    This is what I would do:

    Ask for the complaint against you to be made valid, which means the following. Say in your written documentation that you want the following written in a formal letter to you. 1) Date of incident 2) Time of the incident 3) Name of person who has made the original complaint 4) When was the original complaint filed? (and you should request to see the original documentation or to be given a copy of the complaint.) 4) The nature of the complaint--Were you supposively rude or incompetent or dangerous or what?
    If this information is refused to you, then I would...

    Write up the conversation as you remember it.


    Mention that the complaint against you is heresay. The word heresay is important as heresay implies that the complaint does not hold water. The complaint does not mention you by name,only by description. Does the complaint mention a time that you were supposively playing on the computer? Can anyone else that was there vouch for you and what you were doing at that time? Housekeeping, dietary, co-workers? What about your charting? We do computer charting and that always shows what time it was when you were charting. (For that matter, does your place of employment have computer techs? If so, they can go and find out exactly what the activity was on that computer at any given time.) Point all of this out in your written documentation. Defend yourself at each step. ie "I never use the computer at work for recreation purposes as a matter of ethical principle and in agreement with my employment contract."

    Either the complaint will be dropped or formalized against you. If you do not hear anything further, then I would, after a month, write another letter which states that since you have not heard anything further on the matter that you as of this date, consider the incident closed and expect that it will not be commented on further. If the complaint is formalized against you, answer each charge as best you can and include documentation, times, and witnesses' names as best you can.

    If you use either of these methods, you need to mention in your letter that you are requesting that a copy of your letter be put in your personnel file and that you will be keeping a copy for yourself. Then make copies of the letter and SEND, by certified mail, if necessary to all interested parties--You supervisor, your boss, and Human Resources and whomever else might need to know. (ie the people "downstairs").

    I know this probably sounds over the top, but it is the way to go to protect yourself. Do not let this come back in a year and bite you! Either they need to formalize the complaint against you or drop it. Your professional reputation is at stake as well as future job prospects. GOOD LUCK and hang in there!!
  5. by   asilmk
    Thanks for the great advice!
  6. by   Haunted
    That SUX!!! Sorry. You sound like a compassionate person and your supervisor is playing some hard ball with you to see if you will crack. Just take a deep breath, stand tall and remember that you are the health care provider. Family members can make your job so miserable. If your boss get's up in your grill try a different tactic by sort of sympathizing with THEM, "yeah it must be guilt overload that they didn't really provide adequate care for their loved one all that time" and sort of re direct it to the true trouble makers.

    Just something I learned on Law and Order !!! Mess with the bosses head for a change!!!
  7. by   Goldenhare
    Quote from asilmk
    Thanks for the great advice!
    Your welcome! Let us know what happens. I just don't think its fair to accuse you of this but not do it formally because it lets you open to gossip and scapegoating. If this would happen again in the future, then your team leader might jump to conclusions that you were somehow involved because of this unproven incident. (Is my paranoia showing?) Its just not fair! Your team leader needs to do what she need to do or get off the pot as they say.-OH management was my first career!!
  8. by   asilmk
    I feel like I have some sort of starting point now. For alongbella, I have a couple more specific questions, if you don't mind...We don't have computer charting, but we do have an IT dept that can at least track what computers are being used at what times. We don't have to log into the computers, though, so they won't be able to tell which specific person was on. How would I go about getting IT to check into that? I am almost positive that no one else used my substation that day while I was on shift. I did use the computer one time to print a teaching sheet for another patient. The family who supposedly has complained did walk by while I was reviewing the on screen material. I am guessing that they saw me sitting there and assumed that I was doing nothing. The family also supposedly stated that the nurses did not come into the patients room much, but unforunately they are right about that. I had 8 pts that night, so it was impossible to spend any length of time in anyone's room. I would like that to be noted as well, but I don't want to sound like I am making excuses. Any ideas? My manager has done this before to 2 CNAs and she also wrongly accused one charge nurse and she got fired over it. I work in a small county hospital, so the "good ole boy" network plays a huge role in our politics. As far as witnesses, I won't have any because the only time I saw the other nurse on my hall was when we were zipping by each other down the hall or in the med room. But, I guess she could say that she saw me running around just like she was??? I feel much more comfortable in the fact that this accusation is mere hearsay at this point because no one can name a specific time, date, or even my name and everything my manager said to me was vague. Thank you for seeing why this upset me. I am afraid this could blow up like you said and bite me later. Thanks for the advice and I am looking forward to see what you have to say next.
  9. by   asilmk
    Quote from alongbella
    Your welcome! Let us know what happens. I just don't think its fair to accuse you of this but not do it formally because it lets you open to gossip and scapegoating. If this would happen again in the future, then your team leader might jump to conclusions that you were somehow involved because of this unproven incident. (Is my paranoia showing?) Its just not fair! Your team leader needs to do what she need to do or get off the pot as they say.-OH management was my first career!!
    Ah Ha! I knew you knew what you were talking about! :wink2:
  10. by   Bipley
    Quote from Haunted
    That SUX!!! Sorry. You sound like a compassionate person and your supervisor is playing some hard ball with you to see if you will crack.
    Yep, also sounds like the sup is now able to document what she has done to "correct" this situation.

    Sometimes it is not a matter of actually believing the complaint, it is a matter of pleasing her own supervisors.
  11. by   asilmk
    Quote from Bipley
    Yep, also sounds like the sup is now able to document what she has done to "correct" this situation.

    Sometimes it is not a matter of actually believing the complaint, it is a matter of pleasing her own supervisors.
    Glad you brought that up. Yes, my supervisor is very very quick to please those in authority. You're right, now she has corrected the rebel and she can run along and tell her bosses she has done so.
  12. by   Goldenhare
    Well....
    I think I would call the IT department from home and ask to speak with the IT manager or supervisor. Ask if it they have like 10 minutes that you could talk to them and if not, when would be a good time to call back. I would tell him/her that you are under the impression that the usage history for a particular computer can be referenced for a particular date and is that true? If so would it be possible to have a copy of the usage/sites visited for that computer for that day? My guess here is that either they will say no, which is probably not true but it may be a hassle for them to pull it up. Then I probably would say, "Well this is my situation. I am a nurse on such and such floor and there is some question about inappropriate computer use during my shift and I would like to clear my name. Is there any way that you can tell me that I would be able to do that?" and see what they say. My second guess is that they will say yes, but that they cannot give you a copy because of HIPPA. In that case, I would say, "If I needed this documentation from you, would you be willing to send it to my supervisor and also, if possible, send a copy to HR?" If they want to know why, I would mention the reasoning above about innappropriate computer use. (Then I would contact HR and explain the situation and to expect a copy of this record and could it please be put in your file.) If they say they can release a copy but only to your supervisor, then I would do that but ask them whether the request must come from her. You could tell her that you are concerned about the accusation and that you would appreciate it if she would request the record from IT and review the document when it is forwarded to her. If paper work must be gotten from IT, I would do that too so she does not have to track it down.
    As far as the other nurse goes, who saw you flying around, it wouldn't hurt for you to get her to write a short statement that says that at no time did she witness inappropriate computer use on your part and also to verify that the floor was very busy that night. As far as not going in the patient's room enough, I think it is fair on your letter of documentation to say that it is very possible that the pt's family has a point. But you must go on to say that you were caring for 8 pts. (Were any sicker that the complaining pt?) and felt that you were giving the best care possible for all the pt's concerned. If your supervisor decides to hang you on this point, I would say "Please help me to understand how I could have been more efficient that evening. I am interested in hearing what you would have done differently." You are not giving excuses. You are stating the facts and asking for help in accomplishing the goals set out for you that night. You have now turned the situation into a learning experience have forced your supervisor to do her job and guide you if this situation would ever occur again (as you know it will!!).You have taken the pressure off of you, offered no excuses, and made the supervisor be the problem solver. Don't be afraid to stick up for yourself. Keep a notebook at home with dates of conflicts and conversations and what happened each time. Then if in the future, you have to reference something, you will have the information you need. I think I would be looking at the wanted ads. I wouldn't just quit, cause that looks bad for you, but I could not work in that kind of environment day in and day out because it would get to me real quick. Some people can do it and I admire them for it but I am always trying to improve and worry about criticism and always examine whether I think it has merit. I make myself nuts sometimes!
    Anyways, good luck again and if you what to write again, please do! You could use the email feature if you wanted. Let us know! I'm guessing that once your supervisor sees that your ducks are lining up, she will go look for other fish to fry.
  13. by   psalm
    ...perhaps the pts. family member saw someone on the computer playing solitare that was not a nurse,but an RT, PT,OT, SW, aide, etc. Anyone and everyone is called "nurse".
  14. by   pugmum
    alongbella, you gave some absolutely terrific advice, a primer on Defending Yourself 101... thanks!

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