I am a nursing student four months away from graduating, and I've run into a "situation" of sorts with another student in my class; it is causing great concern to me, and I was wondering what all of you experienced, professional nurses would think about this. A friend of mine, 'Melissa', is in my class; we've been attending nursing school
together since the start of Basics. There are a number of things that lead me to believe that she will be an unsafe nurse, including the fact that she frequently sleeps throughout class, refuses to study because her 'television was calling to her', and spends many a lecture hour playing on her Palm Pilot rather than taking notes or paying attention. I know for a fact that she has completely FABRICATED various items of information while charting during clinical hours, including vital signs and patient status, because she is simply not paying attention or spending time properly assessing her patients. This list could go on FOREVER. She has said that 'everyone' guesstimates vital signs, etc. and uses that as her excuse, or says that 'he looked just fine and I didn't have access to the bp machine' or similar such nonsense. Somehow, she has managed to pass three semesters of a two-year program, albeit by the skin of her teeth, and I have no doubt that she will somehow manage to eek by on the NCLEX, becoming an actual nurse responsible for patient care. Now, recently, things have been occuring that have me very worried, and I don't know if there is anything I can really do about this, but I needed some professional opinions to ease my conscience. This reqires a bit of foreshadowing, so bear with me. ;>) She has been working as a nurse tech in a local ER. Though she has been doing satisfactory work (I'm assuming; she has yet to be fired or reprimanded...) the only thing she seems to spend her time doing is trying to hit on the med students and interns and paramedics (this is a large teaching hospital). We have not yet learned how to start IV's; this is out of our legal ability as a nurse tech, and we have yet to cover it in school (that is what we'll be learning in this last semester). However, the nurses in this ER are frequently busy and overwhelmed, and often ask her if she can start an IV and they will sign off for it. Because she is anxious to 'be a real nurse', she often does not correct medical staff and patients or their families when they address her as 'nurse'. Naturally, she is performing duties out of her scope of practice; it was only inevitable that she would begin to start IV's without properly learning how to do it. She took it upon herself to take a vial of Lidocaine, a TB syringe, and an IV catheter/kit home with her from the hospital. RED FLAG NO. 1: She is stealing supplies (including anesthetic!!!) from work. She convinced her ex-husband that she knew what she was doing and only needed extra practice (he was wary, naturally, but trusted that she was being honest), and sat him down to start her first IV HepLock. She withdrew 0.2 cc of Lidocaine (WITHOUT CONSULTING A DRUG BOOK; SHE ADMITTED THAT SHE *GUESSED* THE AMOUNT NEEDED!!) into the TB syringe, found a vein in the antecubital area, and injected the needle ON TOP OF the vein, rather than to either side. Her husband yelped loudly when she did it, and she withdrew the needle, afraid that she'd gotten it into the vein. She had already begun to press they syringe, so no doubt if she HAD accidentally stuck it into his vein, some Lidocaine was now flowing through his vascular system. (I also have a strong instinct that she DID puncture the vein; don't ask me why- it was just the first thing I thought when she told me this.) She then took the syringe WHICH HAS ALREADY BEEN STUCK INTO HIS ARM AND WITHDRAWN, EXPOSING THE NEEDLE TO AIR and injected half of the remaining Lidocaine on either side of the vein into the tissue. RED FLAG NO. 2: She inserted a CONTAMINATED (contaminated by the air and by the bacteria/germs on his arm) needle BACK INTO his arm to finish the injection. After his arm became numb, she then took the IV catheter, started the IV, got a flash, then pulled it out and put a bandaid on his arm. Okay, anyone seeing yet why I am worried here?????? She called me, excited, and told me EVERYTHING and acted like nothing was wrong, even though I was terribly shocked at her bad judgement, to say the LEAST. It gets worse. I asked her about taking the Lidocaine from work, and she said that THAT WAS NOTHING, that she had access to a number of drugs/antibiotics on the cart at work, including (I can't remember exactly) Stadol or Haldol or something of that nature. She said she'd been tempted to take some home just to try it out. OH. MY. GOD. Okay, so then she continues to talk, telling me that Ancef is also on the cart, and now that SHE KNOWS ABOUT IV'S, she is planning to take some home with some IV supplies just in case she gets sick, so she can begin her own IV and self-medicate when she has the flu/cold/etc. She said that the doctors at work do it all of the time, in the ER, so why can't she do it at home? OH. MY. GOD. RED FLAGS! RED FLAGS!! I am so shocked at hearing all of this, that I don't even know what to THINK!!! What do YOU think? Before you respond, understand this: She is not joking. She is totally serious. I am not overreacting. I know her very well, and this is all true (in fact, I don't doubt that it's worse, but she just didn't tell me ALL of it). These are but the most recent examples. I fear for her patients. She is irresponsible and dangerous, in my opinion. I had to get this off of my chest, and I appreciate anyone who reads this responding with their opinions. Thank you.
Jul 27, '01
Last edit by JennieBSN on Dec 8, '01