ethical issue with work

  1. hello,
    I currently work an off the books job taking care of en elderly man. I was hired privately by the family. I just got out of work and the man's son's (the guy who hired me) wife appeared to be high on something that seemed illegal. I couldn't get close enough to make a better observation, and this is the first time I've seen her like this. What should I do? And if I should report this, who do I report this to? When staff leaves for the night, the son and his wife are the ones looking out for this gentleman. They have cameras in the rooms where the old man is (ie, the downstairs apartment) that record audio and video. I know that if I stick with my gut and report this that I will lose my job, but then my conscience will be clear. Should I consult someone at my school about this problem and seek their advice? Should I wait and observe if this happens again?
  2. Visit alliebeans profile page

    About alliebeans, ASN, BSN, RN

    Joined: Apr '11; Posts: 8; Likes: 5
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 4 year(s) of experience in Primary Care


  3. by   JBudd
    Well, first I wouldn't be working off the books, so take my opinion for what its worth here.

    "seemed to be", "appeared"

    Assumptions can be fatal. If you don't know, don't say anything. Is the man in danger because of it? Is there a health or safety issue than may cause harm to him? How do you know the substance was illegal?

    There is no obligation on the part of the public to turn in their neighbors, unless there is a serously real, public safety issue.
    Would I call if I saw someone abusing a child? yes. Would I call if someone looked like they were smoking pot? No.
  4. by   alliebeans
    Thank you. I appreciate that.
  5. by   Purple_Scrubs
    Since the elderly person you are taking care of presumably cannot take care of himself, he is at the mercy of his caregivers. If it was me, I would make an anonymous report to Adult protective Services and let them investigate...that is their job. It's not your job to investigate or determine if something shady is going on, but since something raised a red flag for you, I would think the ethical thing to do is notify the proper authorities so they can investigate. You would hate for something to happen to the gentleman while he is in the care of the person you were suspicious of, and nothing was done to possibly prevent it.
  6. by   classicdame
    Adult Protective Services exists for this very reason. High on anything, including pot, can cause an individual to make bad decisions. Could be the lady had a "good reason" for her appearance but as a soon-to-be-nurse, that is not sufficient. I would call ADS. They should keep your call confidential
  7. by   nurseprnRN
    bingo. on my license renewal form i have to swear that i have 1) paid my state taxes (first things first), and 2) that i know my license depends on my reporting child or elder (or other vulnerable populations) abuse or neglect. your state might not do that, but it's still part of your state scope and standards of practice, i'll betcha. even if you are not licensed yet, make that anonymous call. don't give the family or neighbors the tiniest hint or reason to suspect it could have possibly been you, and you will still be there to care for this old fella when he needs you.
  8. by   JBudd
    I agree with the other posters, they are expanding on one of my first questions: is the man in danger from what you saw? Is she the sole care provider at times? Back to the safety issue here.
  9. by   AngelofLTC
    I would probably give my notice to quit. Unless she is sole provider for the man I would well enough alone. Maybe the son knows?? You can see many strange things when you enter people's homes. Just my two cents.