Refusing Orders.

  1. 0
    I'm a student nurse but I've heard many stories from nurses and professors about standing your ground and using common sense.

    Name a time when you refused a physicians orders?

    My professor was fired for refusing to push dig on a dig toxic patient! Incredible...! I would have refused too.

    1. Patients life is first
    2. I can get another job not another licence.

    So tell me... Have you ever refused an order? How did it all play out?

    Get the hottest topics every week!

    Subscribe to our free Nursing Insights newsletter.

  2. 14 Comments...

  3. 3
    You are more likely to put your license at risk by blindly following an unsafe order rather than advocating for safe patient care.
    tewdles, loriangel14, and BrnEyedGirl like this.
  4. 1
    Many times! You have to cover your butt. If you are really questioning it, tell them I am not giving doing XYZ. Make sure you go to your charge nurse and use the chain of command. I work with residents and I can't tell you how many hair raising orders I have come across...even from first and second year fellows. We have guidelines for a reason. Your proff could have fought that.
    AJJKRN likes this.
  5. 1
    always follow standard of care will keep you safe, as well as hospital policy. There are a ton of things nurses refuse for, additional pain meds when pt's are nearly unconscious or hardly breathing, orders to not call them for any reason, orders to not recheck labs even if a pt is bleeding out, turning a drip off to 'see what happens'...oh, there are a million. It will be clear to you when you start. Good luck.

    Also always check things that don't seem right with charge nurse, preceptor, or mentor. They will help guide you!
    on eagles wings likes this.
  6. 0
    you need to know what your NPA says about this first, so that the full weight of the BON will be behind you. I have never been in this situation, so have no experience firsthand, but I do know that nurses are the patient's advocate so act accordingly. If someothing goes wrong the MD may say you misinterpreted the order.
  7. 2
    The ANA Scope and Standards of Practice are pretty inexpensive and would answer this question handily. They apply to every RN and are considered authoritative in court or BoN hearings. Current edition (2010) runs about forty bucks and it will save your bacon in ways you can't begin to anticipate. ana scope and standards of practice
    SycamoreGuy and Sugarcoma like this.
  8. 0
    Something that comes up in our ICU from time to time is that a doctor will get sterile for a procedure and then want you to push ketamine or propofol for them. We can't do that, not allowed. They get mad, but they can get over it. Our charge nurse and management back us up.
  9. 4
    I had a situation that resulted in my termination. It was not a doctor's order, but an order from administration which I refused. As the Employee Health Nurse, I sent newly hired employees to an occupational health clinic for drug tests. An email sent to me by an administrator stated that an exception should occur for the spouse of a physician (new physicians weren't required to have drug tests).
    Instead of that new employee having the test, (it was said to be "inconvenient"), I was told to simply note in the new employee's chart that the test was negative!
    Of course I "knee jerk" refused! Now that I've looked at my outraged response many times, I believe that I wouldn't feel as wronged as I do, if I'd simply replied that all drug test lab slip results are stapled to the form I fill out in that regard, and asked how the administrator wanted this one done..... Granted that would have skirted the issue, but I would have placed it back in the administrator's lap...
    anotherone, GrnTea, Not_A_Hat_Person, and 1 other like this.
  10. 0
    lamazeteacher, i agree it gets esp tricky when a non-medical administrator demands totally unsafe and non-sensical orders...
    and more than once, i had been threatened with termination if i didn't follow through.
    my verbal concerns of my licensure limitations (nevermind the lack of ethics) fell on deaf ears.
    to say the least, it was very frustrating...
    and i also acknowledged to myself that even if i was terminated, i would one day be vindicated in a court of law.
    still, who wants to be terminated.
    fwiw, i didn't follow these orders but that is only because he listened to the protests of the DON.

    to answer the question, yes, i have refused drs orders.
    working in inpatient hospice, i have been ordered to administer lethal doses of narcotics.
    these orders were totally irrelevant to the pt's condition at the time.
    to me it was clear that i was being ordered to hasten literally kill someone.
    of COURSE i refused...loudly and veraciously so.

    in the end, a nurse must always refuse orders they know to endanger pt safety/well being.

  11. 6
    I'm interested to see the responses, too. It seems to me that true honest-to-gosh refusals are pretty rare.

    My "refusals" have usually went along the lines of this:

    2am, I page the doc.

    Me: sorry to wake you, but mr smith has a serum K+ of 6.1
    Doctor: ok, go ahead and give xxmg of vitamin K, stat
    Me: ummmm, what? Don't you want me to give kayexalate or something?
    Doctor: wait, what? Did you say INR or K+?

    In that scenario if i had blindly followed the initial order, obviously I would have been JohnnyBadNurse. Of course I questioned it. But it's not really a refusal.

    In the case that the OP mentioned, why on earth would a physician demand a nurse give digoxin to pt with toxic levels already? How does such a situation even come to pass?

    Surely, most potential refusals are quickly resolved when the nurse clarifies the situation to the doctor?

Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors