Unfair Discipline at Work...What do you Think? - page 3

:eek: Last week I was sick...major headache, puking my guts out, diarrhea, cough, fever, congestion, etc. So...I went to our hospital's urgent care. While I was on my way to the bathroom so I could... Read More

  1. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    The point is, she explained to the visitor what was going on, and the visitor accused her of rudeness AND profanity (which wasn't used).

    I doubt "excuse me" would have helped, if the visitor was going to embellish their side of the story.

    And i would have handled the situation the way the OP would have.
  2. by   Gator,SN
    By submitting an apology, you are admitting that you did something wrong. I would think that your DON would then (and only then) have a reason to discipline you, otherwise, I'd tell her to prove it. In a busy ER, other people would have heard this type of altercation so I'd ask for witnesses.
  3. by   kmchugh
    Sorry, Pickles, but I agree with everyone else. Filing a complaint about another patient (which is exactly what this is, no more, no less) generally brings about a concerned shrug from management. Management will tell the complainer that they don't control patients, and would point out that the other person WAS a patient and not feeling well. Somehow, you expect Cotjockey, who was a human being long before becoming a nurse, to behave to a standard higher than anyone else.

    Long a problem in nursing. We must be caring and understanding where our patients are concerned. We must be compassionate in the face of ugly, and even rude, behavior, because the patient isn't feeling well, or the patient is in pain, and it is the illness or pain that is causing the patient's behavior. I remember hearing things like this from day one in nursing school. Do you?

    However, let the patient be a nurse, then all expectations change. Headache? Ignore it and be nice to the customer. Ready to throw up? Better hold it in long enough to give good customer service. Off duty and ill? Wrong, you are never off duty, whether we are paying you or not. Why do you hold nurses to different standards of behavior when sick than the rest of the human race? That attitude is incomprehensible to me, and just one of the reasons that I would never have stayed in nursing, were it not for the availability of advanced practice degrees.

    Tweety hit the nail on the head. Personally, there are too many nursing jobs out there for me to want to compromise my self respect to write a letter of apology for things I did not do. Also, there is the distinct possibility that this could come back at a later date to bite the OP, as we all know that everything stays in a nurses file forever and ever, amen. (I personally believe that nursing "disciplinary files" have a longer half life than plutonium.)

    Another manager could be hired to Cotjockey's unit, and the manager's first impression of her would be her employee file. "Good lord, this woman was rude to a little old lady? Rude enough to have to write a letter of apology?" Such an impression could forever taint that relationship. Nope, wouldn't do it.

    Personally, I'd ask for a meeting with the DON. I'd stay professional and respectful, and point out the following facts:

    1. I was NOT on duty. I was there as a patient, and whether the grandmother recognized me or not, I had (and have) a right to be treated at that time as a patient, not an employee.

    2. In that vein, I believe that it is unfair for the hospital DON to require me to write a letter based on behavior that supposedly occurred when I was off the clock.

    3. I was ill. Not just "I don't feel good" ill, but ill enough to make myself seek medical attention. Sorry, but when I am that ill, I won't be rude, but frankly my own well being is going to take priority.

    4. To fulfill this woman's wishes, I would have to have violated HIPPA. It would seem to me to be a no win situation. Point out to the woman I am off duty, and get in trouble for that, or violate HIPPA and get in trouble for that. From the perspective of the DON, there is apparently no route I can take to resolve the situation without getting myself in trouble. Especially since this woman is going to lie about my behavior anyway.

    5. The woman claims I was obscene and made rude gestures. I say I didn't. In fact, I know I didn't. I will not apologize to someone else for things they made up.

    6. From the DON's perspective, it probably would not have taken much for me to find an on-duty employee to help the woman. However, from my perspective, staying conscious and not throwing up on the floor was occupying all of my attention at that moment. If you would not ask a patient at that time to do something other than attend to their own needs, then it is unfair to expect me to do so.

    7. If you have a little extra money, it might not be a bad idea to consult a lawyer before your meeting with the DON. (And yes, I think this is that important.) If the meeting is not going well, you can simply respond "that's not what my lawyer advised me." (However, save this for the last resort, as it will be sure to earn you the DON's undying anger.)

    Bottom line? I'd have another job lined up, and if the meeting with the DON did not go exactly as I wanted, I would be a new employee elsewhere. And I'd let my lawyer deal with the DON and the hospital. End of story.

    You did nothing wrong, Cotjockey. Stick to your guns.

    Kevin McHugh
  4. by   Gator,SN
    [QUOTE: Honestly, if I was the DON there and I was faced with an employee that said what you claim you said - your days would be numbered]

    A little harsh, don't you think Pickles? Cotjockey has the same rights as any other patient when in the hospital. Just because she is a nurse doesn't mean that she has to put up with other people's crap while off duty. Clearly, this grandmother was taking advantage of the situation. I see this all the time, people have an attitude of self entitlement, selfishness and hostility towards the very people that are trying to help them, namely the nursing staff. We don't escort people around the ER where I work either, HIPPA prevents us from letting people in the room unless they know the patients PIN number or the patient OK's it first. Maybe the granddaughter didn't want her there and that's why she was so nasty. Who knows, but to lie about a nurse and try to ruin her career is just low. The DON should be smarter than that. Good luck Cotjockey!
  5. by   PicklesRN
    Quote from cotjockey
    ...but I am NOT a nurse 24/7. Sometimes I am a mom, sometimes I am a firefighter, and sometimes I am a patient.
    Same here. Same with every profession. Policemen are asked about that ticket someone gets, or if the policeman can fix that parking ticket. My S/O's profession is such that people will stop him on the street, in the grocery store, anywhere and ask very unusual questions assuming he doesn't mind being pretending it is office hours... and actually IN his office. Actors can't walk down the street without being mobbed and they aren't working either. I think your frustration (and a valid frustration!) is something we can all relate to. Heck, I've stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work before so I was still wearing my scrubs. The woman behind the deli approached me (never met her before that moment) and asked if I was a nurse. I told her yes and she went on telling me every single detail of her periods. Flow, days, clots, the works. Wow... is this the new 'get to know your grocery store clerk day?? :chuckle

    ...Yes, I could have been more polite. I SHOULD have been more polite, ...
    And really, that is my only point. Look at it turned out instead? You wasted more energy than was necessary when you didn't have it to spare at the time, this caused you personal stress that simply isn't worth it, and now it is creating some uncomfortable professional issues. And why?

    but once I told her I was not on duty, she should have backed off. But...even if I was rude, she had no right to lie about it to make what I said look worse.
    You bet she should have backed off! You know the type, they are afraid there isn't enough truth to get you in 'real' trouble so they add enough to make damn sure you get in trouble. Just exactly the type that it doesn't pay to have a confrontation with.

    I'll never understand why so many people in management assume that every complaint that they get is valid...nurses are GUILTY until proven innocent and it is almost impossible to be proven innocent!
    Sadly, that is the same with most professions. Especially in a larger business like a hospital. I once had a medical assistant call (claiming to be a nurse, of course) with orders for a patient (shivers at the mere thought) and the orders were for Lovenox. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah.. the order was for Lovenox (pronounced Lov-nox) IM q4-6hours until INR target is met. Of course not only do we have a problem with the 'Lov-nox' orders the patient wasn't taking Coumadin. He was on Heparin, she just wasn't getting it that there is a difference between a PT and PTT. When I tried to explain to her the problem we had she got mad and called my boss complaining that my clinical skills were lacking. She is a professional and she knows what she is talking about, then she went on to explain that it isn't my job to question the orders, it is my job to follow them. Point being, I understand. We've all been there.
  6. by   canoehead
    One if you are off the clock you are not being paid to be nice to that witch

    Two, if you are in a johnny you are obviously not "in the know" and why is she asking a fellow patient for help anyway

    Three, if this lady is a frequent flyer she obviously has a history with the ER, as do you. If it's her word against yours - are they saying that she is to believed over one of their employees. Certainly doesn't bode well for their hiring judgement.

    Either the lady is lying and you have nothing to apologize for, or she isn't and they are saying that you are. I'd be ready to say "so fire me then" but you can call upon your fellow coworkers who know both parties and can back you up on your veracity.

    But getting back to the point- you were off duty- she has NO SAY over what you choose to do off duty. (Unless you were naked in playboy with your uniform on...nope- no uniform- OK my original point stands!)

    If, God forbid, you were hallucinating and took off all your clothes and an around the ER saying you were Jesus Christ, would they discipline you for impersonating a deity? No......well, just because you weren't quite that bad off doesn't mean you have to meet hospital standards.

    If she said "there's something wrong with my IV" and you were not on the clock, would you even be allowed to touch the IV as a patient? You are either working or not.

    And by the way is the DON going to pay you for your time that you were speaking as a hospital rep while you were ill? Has she even considered it? If she offers to pay you for your time, then you can offer to write a letter.

    Dear Miss Thing

    I'm sorry you were upset at my response to your question. I did not know where your loved one was or what they might be doing there. I still don't.

    Yours truly
  7. by   FNimuaeMae
    And will find it to satisfy their needs, and its all just a matter of perception.

    Scenario being-

    Had a patient having problems in our ICU... you tend to get focused on that problem, if you know what I mean.

    Had woman come up to me, ask me where the bathrooms were. Had no clue who she was, nothing. Pointed her in the direction of the hallway where they are, went on my merry way trying to make sure my patient wouldn't crash.

    The charge nurse pokes her head in the room, asks me what happened with that lady....

    Told her I pointed her in the direction of the bathrooms.

    Seems she was the 1 on 1 sitter for a patient on the other side of the floor, hospital employee.

    Her impression of my directions was that I was disrespecting her by pointing her to the visitors bathroom and was giving her an attitude. I heard this story from the charge nurse who totally believed me, and made it a point of searching this woman out.

    I told her that I was sorry she got that impression, and she started going off about no one was going go give her disrespect, etc... and appeared to have a bit of a chip on her shoulder. I got the impression it might have been racially motivated as well, but you had to be there to get all the nuances.

    The point of this story is that sometimes people just hear what they want to hear.... as that woman certainly did. I was rather amused by the whole thing as one thing my mom raised me to be is patient and respectful of people, and even in a stressful situation I don't tend to be rude.

    (shrug)

    Missy
  8. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from PicklesRN
    I have only read the first pages of replies you received but it appears I am going to disagree with most here.

    While I don't believe you had any reason to obtain information for this woman I have to admit I fully disagree with your presentation. I'd feel a lot better if you were paraphrasing your words but instead you use quotation marks and that tells me you used those words or that attitude at the very least.

    You had a few options;

    1) Find out the information for her,
    2) Flag down someone that could point her in the right direction,
    3) Claim total ignorance because afterall there is no reason she should have had any clue where you work,
    4) Point her in the direction that she can find someone on her own.

    Honestly, if I was the DON there and I was faced with an employee that said what you claim you said - your days would be numbered. As a DON I would have no problems with any of the above four suggestions. But since the woman does know you are an employee and you told her you have no need to know her information and to leave you alone... that's going too far. We don't like it when we are treated that way by our patients or their family, our patient's and their family members don't like it when we treat them that way either.

    Think about it, shrugging your shoulders and telling her you had no idea and gestering to where staff were available... that takes less effort than going through the drama of telling her how sick you are and why you won't get her information and how bad you feel.

    If you were wearing even the bottoms of your scrubs then you are still representing the hospital to some degree.

    Bottom line, it would have taken less time to be nice, and if you really weren't wearing your scrubs she should have had no reason to approach you to begin with.
    I think this is beyond unreasonable (except the part about explaining so much----I agree there, I would have said much less).

    But the rest Sounds like something administration or management would say, however so I am not surprised by your reply. It's things like this that make nurses want to walk, more and more. Unreasonable responses by management in what are extenuating circumstances for their HUMAN employees.

    And I disagree: She is NOT representing the hospital when she is SICK and OFF DUTY. I think you are being very unfair here.
  9. by   mercyteapot
    If this hospital has a "the customer is always right" attitude, then the DON should bear in mind that the OP was functioning as a CUSTOMER here, not as an employee. Besides the fact that the DON's demand that the OP write a letter of apology being unfair and unreasonable (and what does an apology mean, if its coerced, anyway?), it is also valuing one customer over another. It sounds like the visitor is a real idiot. Who can't tell the difference between a nurse on duty and a sick patient?
  10. by   PicklesRN
    Quote from kmchugh
    ...Why do you hold nurses to different standards of behavior when sick than the rest of the human race? That attitude is incomprehensible to me, and just one of the reasons that I would never have stayed in nursing, were it not for the availability of advanced practice degrees. ...
    I never said nurses should be held to different standards. Never even came close. Read what I have written, it's pretty clear the person who matters is the one that now has to write a letter of apology (something I clearly disagree with, btw). Because of a few very short moments of venting, anger, <insert your favorite adjective> now look at what has happened? The hard feelings, the whining on the part of the patient from the hospital, the job issues, the DON perspective, a silly letter of apology... all of it. How does it pay the one who started this thread? What has she gotten out of all this? Not much more than crap served to her. That's not fair.

    Tweety hit the nail on the head. Personally, there are too many nursing jobs out there for me to want to compromise my self respect to write a letter of apology for things I did not do. Also, there is the distinct possibility that this could come back at a later date to bite the OP, as we all know that everything stays in a nurses file forever and ever, amen. (I personally believe that nursing "disciplinary files" have a longer half life than plutonium.)
    I absolutely do not agree that a letter of apology is in order. You'd be hard pressed to get me to write one. I'll tell them to kiss mine and I'd take my happy butt right on down the road. But that isn't the point either. Look at the results of the original behavior, look at what it has grown into. If allllll this drama is worth it to the nurse in question... cool. That's fine, all the power to her. But what if she likes her job? What if overall she likes what she does and where she does it. What happens if she doesn't write this silly letter? I suppose she could potentially lose her job.

    I still disagree with handling it as she did. I see nothing positive out of any of this.
  11. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from mercyteapot
    If this hospital has a "the customer is always right" attitude, then the DON should bear in mind that the OP was functioning as a CUSTOMER here, not as an employee. Besides the fact that the DON's demand that the OP write a letter of apology being unfair and unreasonable (and what does an apology mean, if its coerced, anyway?), it is also valuing one customer over another. It sounds like the visitor is a real idiot. Who can't tell the difference between a nurse on duty and a sick patient?
    BINGO!
  12. by   canoehead
    Probably the mature thing would be to suck it up and cut your losses. That said, you are completely in the right, and if you need to write an apology for what you did then as a patient you deserve an apology for the poor treatment your DON has given you.

    What does your immediate supervisor or the supervisor of the ER have to say?
  13. by   Antikigirl
    Oh I so would have said "actually can you help hold me up or get a chair I am about to faint, but don't get too close or I may vomit on your shoes".

    That would have had her out of your area fast! Or at least a chair!

    I find that patients and expecially family of patients do not think of nurses as human beings...so when this happened to me (onset of acute 10/10 abdominal pain and I was trying to get into the bathroom to throw up and I was barely able to walk...and a patients family member, seeing that I couldn't even walk and was hunched over like Kawisemoto (sp?) was asking me questions and demanding I take the patient to the bathroom). I simply said, "Oh no I am going to faint, please get me some help please" and it clued in on that idiot that I was a human being in trouble and I got some help instead. (found out I tore an adhesion from my c-section years ago and it was bleeding something fierce..off to the ER I went...more than likely transfering his loved one!).

    As far as the note, no way! I would say that I most certainly did not verbally abuse the woman, and that she is totally incorrect and I am not playing into that or it isn't good. That will set a pattern of that woman crying wolf and using techniques like that to get help on her terms whenever she wants it. Nope, I don't encourage such behavior from family because it is not right to treat a professional with threats!"

    and, I would take the consequences and hope for the best. I live with my values, not theirs...and if I get fired...it is still my values I go home with...best to keep them unscathed from the beurocrasy and bs about "the customer always being right"! (yeah if the customer is always right, why do we have nurses or doctors???? It would stand to reason they wouldn't need us anymore huh?).

    Good luck!

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