"Is this patient abandonment?"

  1. I'd like to get your input. Two ICU R.N.'s at our hospital left work in the middle of their shift to go shopping at a nearby mall. They were gone for two hours. (Did not clock out..or back in.) They did not ask/tell the supervisor. One nurse had an aide "cover" her patients for her while she was gone. The other nurse had another R.N. cover her two pts. while she was gone. The remaining R.N.'s on the unit were unaware of what was taking place...the 2 nurses worked two different units...weren't really missed...simply assumed to be taking a long lunch. In your opinion, how should management handle this? What would happen in your hospital?
    Last edit by prn nurse on Feb 18, '02
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   live4today
    Fire the suckers! If for nothing more than taking a two hour lunchbreak, for goodness sake! It doesn't matter WHAT they did on their lunchbreak, the problem is the time span they were gone, unless that time was pre-approved by Nursing management. NOT!

    And, to leave a CNA in charge of ICU patients or any patients for that matter??? Oh no!! Nada!!! You most definitely should let management know, but first let the two nurses who abused their 30 minute lunchbreak (or one hour lunchbreak...whatever your hospital's policy is) know that you are telling on them. If it's right to tell, then it's right to own up to "who told".
  4. by   kids
    I agree with Renee-fire them.

    I also think it is abondonment -they didn't clock out, and 1 of them did not arrange for a qualified person to take over her patients- I'm sure the BON would have a few other comments on that one
  5. by   snickers
    Fired...license suspended. at the very least....what if the patient was one of your family??

    sj
  6. by   nursedawn67
    I have to agree they are major danger and liability!
    Lose them and quickly!
  7. by   SICU Queen
    My biggest problem is that a CNA was left to care for a critically ill patient. BIG no-no...

    They need to be severly reprimanded, if not terminated. And I'm very curious as to why they had to go shopping that particular day. Big sale?? Expiring coupons??
  8. by   ArenRN
    This is how it would be viewed in the hospital where I work:
    If an RN was covering for them is not abandonment. ( if the other RN agreed to cover for her)
    The one that had the aide cover for her, abandoned her pts
    For the one that had another RN cover her pts:Firing is extreme. A witten reprimend and no pay for the excess time taken
    For the one that had the aide cover her pts: termination
    If the RN covering the pts was aware that she was covering for them to be shopping: written reprimend
  9. by   prmenrs
    It sounds like abandonment to me. We have had nurses leave campus for some legitimate reasons. BUT--everyone knew, and the unit was covered, i.e., NEVER more than 1 @ a time. When you are @ lunch, you are considered to be on your own time--but 2 hours is not just lunch.

    I'd be willing to bet they'd get a suspension from our NM's. And, it would probably cost them @ eval time.
  10. by   KNOW IT
    Quote from prn nurse
    I'd like to get your input. Two ICU R.N.'s at our hospital left work in the middle of their shift to go shopping at a nearby mall. They were gone for two hours. (Did not clock out..or back in.) They did not ask/tell the supervisor. One nurse had an aide "cover" her patients for her while she was gone. The other nurse had another R.N. cover her two pts. while she was gone. The remaining R.N.'s on the unit were unaware of what was taking place...the 2 nurses worked two different units...weren't really missed...simply assumed to be taking a long lunch. In your opinion, how should management handle this? What would happen in your hospital?
    There are a few concerns here. Each State defines what "abandonment" means for that State. Most States adopt the Federal Standard. I'm running on memory now so this is not word for word by any means. It is posted on the net. Just Google search it. Once a nurse accepts care for a patient they "contract" to care for that patient in the normal standards accepted in that State. In your case, my opinion is that the aid is not qualified to care for ICU patients anad that nurse is guilty of patient abandonment. As to the second nurse who had nurse care for her patients, that is full time work so they could not be caring for their other patient load while constanatly monitoring the ICU patients! If she went to care for her own patients, she could not be monitoring the ICU patients. She or he may be guilty of patient abandonment by accepting responisibility for two ICU patients. You can't do them both. As to punishment, depending on what happened with the RN who accepted the care if the patients, she should be reprimanded and a note made in her file if she ever wanted a recommendation.
    The RN who let an aid cover for her should be fired. The fact that these patients were in ICU means they demand the highest quality of care that can be given. They are in life or death status. If one died or an incident happened that led to their death, the hospital would be sued, their insurance would skyrocket and it sets an example to all the Staff. If they had informed their immediate supervisor, in any State, they are off the hook and the supervisor's head is on the block. The little things that would make the difference is whether the patient load was so light there were nurses with nothing to do so one actually could cover for one of the nurses. In any event, they should both be docked pay for time not on the job. The Nursing Board for your State would likely suspend the license of the nurse who left an aid to care for her patients and the aid as well for taking on a medical practice she was not licensed or qualified to do.
  11. by   purplemania
    This would be cause for immediate dismissal in my opinion because they abandoned patients and were collecting pay but not on the job. Same as altering time cards. I would not want them to be assigned to my loved one. What else do they cheat on????
  12. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Immediate termination, after a report to the state nursing board.
  13. by   KNOW IT
    Quote from purplemania
    This would be cause for immediate dismissal in my opinion because they abandoned patients and were collecting pay but not on the job. Same as altering time cards. I would not want them to be assigned to my loved one. What else do they cheat on????
    Frankly, I would not want my loved ones under their care either. However, the question asked was a question of law and not likes or dislikes. I've studied law in an honors program at a prestgious university. I was trying to answer the question that was asked and not my personal feelings. Try to read the question dispassionately and you will think of the correct responses more easily. It really is a question of law and you need to have some advanced knowledge of law to be of help. I hope your family all live long and healthy lives. I hope you live in a State that has strong laws on patient abandonment but realize that Physicians across the country are walking out on hospitals and refusing patients or severing relationships with patients that they even think might sue them one day. Insurance companies are making these doctors pay outrageous fees for mal practice and these doctors are saying in published letters that they want less stringent definitions of patient abandonment. The real crooks, in my opinion, are the insurance companies. Every year, out of the total money they receive in mal practice insurance, they pay out less than 2 %. That is why their CEO's get 500 million dollars a year salaries and how they are able to build all those tall sky scrapers. Government should concentrate on regulating insurance but because they have all this money, they have lobbies that buy virtually everyone in Government. I digress.

    The point is that the doctors are going to get their way and the same standard for patient abandonment will apply to nurses as well as physicians. The laws have to be equal for all. That means that some unprofessional people, including doctors, get away with murder. In the State of Nevada, we have some of the most sued doctors in the country and not one of them had any action taken against them by the Medical Review Board. They still practice today. Several were cases of patient abandonment and millions were paid out.
    Doctors receive $3,000 to $8,000 per night if they leave their name on call at hospitals. Most never get called but make an extra $100,000.00 per year or more for doing nothing but watching tv or drinking Martini's by the pool. An honest government would solve the whole situation if they stopped taking bribes from Insurance Companies but that will never happen in your lifetime or mine. If pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and many physicians were brought under control in the USA, life would improve for everyone. Nurses would be better paid and be able to fund their own lobby. Be well.
  14. by   SoundofMusic
    We had a nurse who left on a shift the other night. She didn't exactly explain anything to anyone but the charge nurse, and then we as nurses were asked to assume care of her patients. I was unsure as to whys he went home -- seemed more like an emotional upset than anything. She was also precepting a student at the time, also leaving her high and dry, and much of her paperwork and charting was undone.

    I am waiting to see what our management does about it also. It's confusing as to how it was allowed. I was not "asked" if I agreed to taking her patients. I was just told to take them.

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