Quote from mamason
i am curious. like the op, i left my last job due to unsafe pt care. what are the confidentiality rules and such. i'm worried that my last manager may give me a bad reference when i apply for another job. she and i did not see eye to eye on a lot of things.
just like we nurses are obligated to keep what is going on with our patients as confidential, the same applies to the people who supervise and manager us. the rules of confidentiality are that managers, in particularly, are not supposed to discuss, or disclose, anything about an employee's personnel issues with anyone else who has no business knowing about them. that means that (s)he shouldn't be discussing your performance reviews, disciplinary actions or any personal feelings about your job performance with people such as your same level co-workers and, in particular, anyone outside the facility. that includes someone who is asking about a reference on you for a job. unless a manager is incredibly stupid in today's world, they can get their pants sued off if a former employee can prove that a former employer caused them to lose a job offer because of subjective, unprovable (and that's what most references boil down to) comments they made to a prospective employer of yours. now, within your own facility, a manager can discuss problems that they have with an employee with their own superiors as long as it is within a business context.
when you are applying for jobs, use people for references that you know like you and where there is little worry that they might trash you in a reference. in all the facilities where i was a manager, we managers were all instructed, in no uncertain terms, not to give out any personal references for former employees. any requests for job references like this were to be given immediately to the human resources department (hr). hr handles them, for legal purposes. the only information they will release is the date you were hired, the last day of your employment and whether or not you terminated voluntarily (quit on your own) or involuntarily (were fired). and, usually they will only verify or deny this information with the person calling and not give out the actual dates of your hire and termination. they will almost never give out any information about any disciplinary actions either because of the legal problems it could cause them if you come back and sue for disclosure of confidential employee information. that is despite any waiver you signed with a prospective employer to relieve them of all responsibility regarding the obtaining of references from a former employer. this is why i'm always mentioning in posts i make about interviewing that a good interviewer can get a job applicant to talk and sometimes reveal these things or at least bring out their character flaws so that confidential disclosure by a former employer doesn't even become an issue.
if you ever want to double check to see if a former employer is following these "rules", you or a friend can merely call and ask for a reference on you. have your social security number and dates of hire and last day of work in front of you since they will ask for these. see what comes of it. just for fun give them a phony date of termination and see what they say. even better, push them a little and ask for information about disciplinary actions or attendance information and see what they say. most will flatly tell you that they can't give out that information and are usually shocked or flabbergasted that someone would even ask for it.
there is something else that employees can do upon leaving employment where they have had "problems" that you may not be aware of to assure that no one mistakenly releases information about you. you write a letter addressed to the person in charge of human resources specifically directing them to (1) place this letter in your permanent file, and (2) never release any information to anyone about anything in your personnel file except for your date of hire and termination. you can also specify that they are not to disclose whether or not you gave the facility required length of notification of termination. keep a copy of the letter forever. if there is ever a doubt that they might do you wrong, call them periodically and ask for a reference to see if they are following your instructions. after a couple of years, you are just a name on a file anyway. not only that, but most prospective employers aren't interested in what employers farther back than a couple of years have to say about you unless you stayed at one place for years and years.
if you want to show prospective employers that you were a good employee at a previous place of employment, show them copies of your lastest yearly evaluations. every employee is entitled to a copy of every written evaluation (or disciplinary actions). if you don't have them, you merely go to hr and tell them you never got one from your manager. they must supply you with them. some places, before your last day of work, will give you the opportunity to review your permanent personnel file and permit you to make copies of some of the things in it. this is your right as an employee. however, once you terminate, you no longer have the right to access that information, so get it before you quit.