Verbal Abuse and Neglect--What Should I do???

  1. there is an ongoing situation where i work. a nurse on that shift is verbally abusive to patients, cursing in front of them, talking to them like they are animals, and neglecting them. i could spend all day documenting examples of this ongoing behavior.

    maybe three weeks ago i reported what i have been witnessing for 6 months. until then, i guess i thought maybe a charge nurse would do something about what was going on. i didn't want to cause trouble. i knew that the charge nurse was seeing the same things i did. nothing changed. finally, i reported the situation directly to a manager.

    one tidbit of the whole story had to do with internet use. all night long, looking at really weird, sometimes inappropriate sites--basically, if one looked at the pattern of internet use, it would clearly show that patient care wasn't taking place.

    the only thing that i'm aware of that came out of my complaint was an order that the night shift was no longer allowed to use the internet. not for any purpose.

    but, the problem is not internet use, it's a matter of work ethic and morals. replace using the internet with reading magazines and gossiping--the problem is still there.

    the dehumanizing treatment and borderline neglect of patients is the big issue. the demented and confused patients are the victims.

    i knew somehow that complaining would come back to haunt me. i realized quickly that i would have to leave the department, and i've arranged that.

    what's bothering me is that this situation is going to continue and that possibly it may never be addressed. patients on that floor on certain nights will be treated and talked to like animals.

    my grandmother died on that floor. i made the decision to change careers on that floor. i never even considered beginning my nursing career anywhere else, and i am sad that i have to leave. i see my grandmother in every patient there, and i can't leave knowing that people are going to continue to be treated in such a way.

    what would you do?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Jo Dirt
    I'd have to know what the situation is first hand to know if it warrants serious reporting or if it would be classified as tattling because the place isn't run according to how someone thinks it should be. Are the patients needs really being ignored to the point they are suffering and have dehydration issues and bedsores? When you say they are talked to like "animals" what exactly does this mean? I know nurses who are kind of gruff and certainly no barrel of laughs. They don't baby the patients (neither do I, but I'm nice to them) and call them cutesy bames and some of them I flat out don't like but I couldn't call them truly abusive.

    Also, as far as gossiping, you will never stop that. Gossip spreads like wildfire through every hospital and nursing home in America. Personally, I hate gossip and never did it. Funny thing, people knew I was this way and lots of times they told me private things because they knew their secret was safe with me...anyway, don't even think you'll do anything about gossiping, and you shouldn't even make it your place to decide what people can talk about. Just don't participate.

    If it is really just a matter of how I don't like how things are run on the floor, I would go quietly to my other department, worry about the patients and how I took care of them rather than worry about other peoples' jobs. Right or wrong, like it or not you probably have established a reputation as a troublemaker. Decide what is really important.

    On the other hand, if patients are really suffering, have bruises and such, a call to the state should bring an inspector, though that is no guarantee anything will be done, either.
  4. by   Drysolong
    Quote from grad in may '07
    there is an ongoing situation where i work. a nurse on that shift is verbally abusive to patients, cursing in front of them, talking to them like they are animals, and neglecting them. i could spend all day documenting examples of this ongoing behavior.

    maybe three weeks ago i reported what i have been witnessing for 6 months. until then, i guess i thought maybe a charge nurse would do something about what was going on. i didn't want to cause trouble. i knew that the charge nurse was seeing the same things i did. nothing changed. finally, i reported the situation directly to a manager.

    one tidbit of the whole story had to do with internet use. all night long, looking at really weird, sometimes inappropriate sites--basically, if one looked at the pattern of internet use, it would clearly show that patient care wasn't taking place.

    the only thing that i'm aware of that came out of my complaint was an order that the night shift was no longer allowed to use the internet. not for any purpose.

    but, the problem is not internet use, it's a matter of work ethic and morals. replace using the internet with reading magazines and gossiping--the problem is still there.

    the dehumanizing treatment and borderline neglect of patients is the big issue. the demented and confused patients are the victims.

    i knew somehow that complaining would come back to haunt me. i realized quickly that i would have to leave the department, and i've arranged that.

    what's bothering me is that this situation is going to continue and that possibly it may never be addressed. patients on that floor on certain nights will be treated and talked to like animals.

    my grandmother died on that floor. i made the decision to change careers on that floor. i never even considered beginning my nursing career anywhere else, and i am sad that i have to leave. i see my grandmother in every patient there, and i can't leave knowing that people are going to continue to be treated in such a way.

    what would you do?
    if it is as bad as you describe, (and i don't doubt that it is), perhaps you should report the situation to the state.
  5. by   Weeping Willow
    Wow, that is awful. Can you be more specific without revealing where you work? I'm just wondering if this woman is criminal in her behavior. Should she be reported to law enforcement? Is she being violent toward residents or trying to harm them via meds or rough handling? Maybe you should report her to the Board of Nursing Registration that issues her license. And you might have to report the entire facility to its governing Board of Directors and the agency that licenses it and the one that accredits it.

    There is probably no easy way, no painless way. I do not envy you but I think you have a moral obligation to speak out and maybe a legal one as well. Maybe you should consult a lawyer to see what your duties are and how to protect yourself. I wish you good luck.

    Maybe, if it's legal where you work, you could video her in action. One picture is worth a thousand words. Check with a lwyer.

    And yes, that is so typical of many managers - issue an edict that punishes everyone but does nothing to nail the culprit.
  6. by   defeatedcreek
    Think deeply. If you believe your opinion is colored by your grandmother's death then hesitate. If not, report these things. Women like that nurse deserve execution.
  7. by   ktwlpn
    call the ombudsman and the state.Have you submitted written documentation containing specific instances of this behavior? Do so asap-That's what it takes to enable admin. to take action.
  8. by   cmo421
    It is criminal not to report suspected abuse or neglect of the elderly or patient. If what u say is really going on u are legally bound to report it. First to your administration and then to the state. Document and CYA, (even if just in a notebook) but if u allow abuse,then u r just as guilty. Not an easy road to follow, but ethically and morally the right thing to do.
  9. by   S.T.A.C.E.Y
    What I think I would do:

    So if you've already arrange to leave I would write an email to your manager, and cc her manager (with a copy to yourself as well). As others have said, if you feel that it is a big enough issue go higher too...ombudsman, patient advocate, state reporting agency. Write out the whole situation with *specific* examples, and explain how you have tried to solve this problem already. You have talked to her yourself, you have talked to the charge nurse, you have talked to your manager, and the problem persists. Tell them what you told us, that the issue wasn't necessarily the internet, but rather the innappropriate use of time, and has been replaced with magazines and whatnot. I would definitely explain that the purpose of your email is that you are concerned about patient care, and despite the fact that you are leaving, you feel this should not continue. Make it personal if you feel you have to. Maybe explain that your grandmother was a patient on this floor, and if you had seen a nurse treating her the way this nurse treats her patients you would have____________(taken her home AMA, transferred to other hospital, called the state, etc.) Then, end it asking your manager for a confirmation that the email was received, and what she plans to do about it.
  10. by   sharona97
    Bless your heart. Keep these residents in your prayers. I also agree with reporting elder abuse. Good Luck.
  11. by   Dorito
    Quote from cmo421
    It is criminal not to report suspected abuse or neglect of the elderly or patient. If what u say is really going on u are legally bound to report it. First to your administration and then to the state. Document and CYA, (even if just in a notebook) but if u allow abuse,then u r just as guilty. Not an easy road to follow, but ethically and morally the right thing to do.

    I agree. Healthcare workers are "mandated reporters" of any suspected abuse or neglect of children and "vulnerable adults". Contact the county social services department and the police if needed and document/ document/ document.
  12. by   HM2VikingRN
    I would report consistent with the laws in your state.
  13. by   HM2VikingRN
    [FONT=ArialNarrow,Bold]
    Where Are Mandated Reporters to
    Report?
    [FONT=ArialNarrow]
    The
    [FONT=ArialNarrow,Italic]Code of Virginia [FONT=ArialNarrow]assigns responsibility for
    receiving and investigating reports of adult abuse,
    neglect, and exploitation to local departments of
    social services or the Virginia Department of Social
    Services APS hotline at 1 (888) 832-3858. Mandated
    reporters are required to report to local departments
    of social services or the APS hotline. When sexual
    abuse, death, serious bodily injury, or disease
    believed to be caused by abuse or neglect, and any
    criminal activity involving abuse or neglect that places
    the adult in imminent danger of death or serious
    bodily harm are suspected, mandated reporters are
    required to report to both local departments of social
    services and local law enforcement.

    [FONT=ArialNarrow,Bold]

    http://www.dss.virginia.gov/pub/pdf/...ters_broch.pdf

    As a mandated reporter I think you should report this situation to the above.
  14. by   Grace Oz
    Quote from motorcycle mama
    I'd have to know what the situation is first hand to know if it warrants serious reporting or if it would be classified as tattling because the place isn't run according to how someone thinks it should be. Are the patients needs really being ignored to the point they are suffering and have dehydration issues and bedsores? When you say they are talked to like "animals" what exactly does this mean? I know nurses who are kind of gruff and certainly no barrel of laughs. They don't baby the patients (neither do I, but I'm nice to them) and call them cutesy bames and some of them I flat out don't like but I couldn't call them truly abusive.

    Also, as far as gossiping, you will never stop that. Gossip spreads like wildfire through every hospital and nursing home in America. Personally, I hate gossip and never did it. Funny thing, people knew I was this way and lots of times they told me private things because they knew their secret was safe with me...anyway, don't even think you'll do anything about gossiping, and you shouldn't even make it your place to decide what people can talk about. Just don't participate.

    If it is really just a matter of how I don't like how things are run on the floor, I would go quietly to my other department, worry about the patients and how I took care of them rather than worry about other peoples' jobs. Right or wrong, like it or not you probably have established a reputation as a troublemaker. Decide what is really important.

    On the other hand, if patients are really suffering, have bruises and such, a call to the state should bring an inspector, though that is no guarantee anything will be done, either.
    Help me understand, so we wait until they've got bedsores and dehydration before we act??????

    Part of a nurses role is to be an advocate for the patient.

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