Just had a Consent Agreement go into effect, I feel like I'm hanging in limbo

  1. So to make a long story somewhat short, I was working at a hospital, full time, night shift ( I have been a nurse for 5 years) and also going through a lot of issues at home, husband with MS, taking care of 3 of my sisters kids for over 6 months, driving my husband to get Solumedrol treatments and then coming home, putting on my scrubs and going to work. I was also in the process of seeing a psychiatrist for the first time in my life because I guess I finally felt like I couldn't "hold it all in" anymore (long history of sexual and physical abuse) on top of everything that was going on at the time.
    I thought I was doing the right thing, my job at the time didn't make it very flexible for me to switch shifts or call off (no-one wanted to switch with me I worked nights) SO I kept going to work, doing my job, until one night my supervisor pulls me off the floor (with a security guard) searches all of my stuff, drug and alcohol test me, sends me home...... Days later, everything came back normal, no drugs or alcohol in my system. The complaint stemmed from a "anonymous coworker" reporting that I was "acting strangely", "appearing tired in report". Well I was to go back to my job and the day before I was to go back they callled me in and basically forced me to resign or be terminated. They gave me a wonderful reference letter by the way.
    I move onto another job, have been working their for almost a year, then a few months ago I receive correspondence from the board that my case in being investigated. I comply with them (knowing I didn't really do anything wrong), well then I end up being sent a consent agreement, putting my license on monitored probabation, with restrictions (such as not being a nursing supervisor, manager , etc) I do not have any drug or patient care restrictions. I have also hired an attorney to get the restrictions lifted (or try to).
    Problem is, my current job, which I have been at for almost a year has had me on paid leave for 4 days while they "figure out what they are going to do with me". I have been their for almost a year, full time, great evaluations... And here I am sitting at home wondering If I am going to get a phone call and get fired!
    I got kinda down on the world, like , can we not be RN's , nurses, whatever and be human beings also. YES, I was seeing a psychiatrist, I was tired, my body was adjusting to the medications he prescribed me but at no point did I make a med error, harm a patient or call off of work.
    I find a lot of posts about drug and alcohol rehab but I cannot find anyone to talk to about this, or anyone who has been in a similiar situation. ANY bit of advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Love ya!~
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    About GotoGirlRN

    Joined: Apr '09; Posts: 26; Likes: 85
    Specialty infusion, pediatrics, adult med/surg; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in ped/adult medsurg, specialty infusion


  3. by   sissiesmama
    Girl - I am so sorry you are having to go through this! That is a horrible situation, and to heap that on you while you are trying so hard to help your husband through his illness - my gosh! It makes you wonder sometimes how much we can stand before we just fold completely.

    I did not know that they could do something like that, if we weren't under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but I guess it's the patient safety issue - but it doesn't sound like you did anything to deserve this. Your psychiatrist would be able to help in this situation, you'd think. Could he/she send in reports or something that be may be able to give you any assistance?

    My dh and I will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers. Again, I am so very sorry that you are having to go through this. Was this someone that was "out to get you" or something maybe? I hate to say that, but didn't you say you didn't even miss work, ect? You'd think your manager/director would have at least come to you and talk with you instead of all this.

    I'm so sorry - we will definetly keep you in our thoughts. Keep me posted. I hope things get worked out.
    Anne, RNC
  4. by   Tom123
    I am very sorry to hear that you are going through all of this. I know you do not have any drug/alcohol issues. Did you ever tell a fellow nurse, etc., that you were seeing a psychiatrist? If so, that is where the complaint stems from.

    I must ask, did you sign the consent agreement? You need to appear in front of the Board of Nursing and explain to them what has been happening in your life, etc. This will let the Board know that you are tired, because of everything you have to do, including work. Also, and please do not take this the wrong way, if your state has an IPN (impaired nurse program) seek them out. They will be able to assist you. I am from Florida, and the IPN program in this state is very helpful, not only for nurses with drug/alcohol problems, but also for nurses who are facing a trememdous amount of stress. This allows the Board to know what is going on with you, but also protects your license.

    As far as I am concerned, your supervisor acted too hastily. He/she should have come up to your unit, and spoken to you in private, to assertain what was going on. She could then have asked you if you would be willing to submit to a drug/acohol test. It is probably mandatory in that hospital. You may also have a case in wrongful terminiation. They forced you to resign or be terminated. They used pressure, without any evidence of wrong doing. Ask your attorney about that possibility.

    Please keep me informed of what is going on. I have dealt with several cases involving the BON.

    You and your family are in my prayers.

    God Bless
  5. by   Debilpn23
    I am also sorry to hear you are going through this. I will pray for you. Please let us know how you make out
    Love Debi
  6. by   sissiesmama
    GotoGirl - I am glad to see you are getting some good support from members here. Like I said, I am so very sorry for everything you are going through, both at work and with your husband ill. That is definetly a hard load for anyone to carry.

    I agree that it seems like your supervisor was a little too hasty in this - it does make sense like another poster said that if another staff member had been told you had been seeing a psych, that is where this started. In my opinion, though, it wasn't any of his or her business and they certainly shouldn't have done what they did to instigate this in the first place.

    Please know we are here for you, whether it be to lend a cyber ear for you to vent, or whatever you need. I pray for you - for peace for you in this situation at work and pray also for your husband. You will be in our thoughts.

    Anne, RNC
  7. by   BEDPAN76
    Hi there Goto, I just had to send a short note to tell you how sorry I am that this is happening to you. Like the old saying, "When it rains, it pours" . Also, because I, too, have scars in my back from being the victim of back-stabbing over the years. You feel like you want to just . I have learned over the years to keep my personal problems to myself. Because no matter how nice and " concerned" a co-worker may appear, they are NOT your friend. I am so glad you have legal help. I am sending hugs and prayers your way. PLEASE keep us posted!
  8. by   classicdame
    you need a lawyer
  9. by   GotoGirlRN
    I have an attorney. I was told to sign the consent agreement and not go before the Board because they would add even more punishment. YES I did confide in a coworker that I was seeing a psychiatrist because she was a old psych nurse and confided to me that she gained a lot of help from seeing a psychiatrist. I guess in my heart I can't see why she would turn on me like this. She would always tell me I could call her mom and she saw me as her "adopted daughter" ( I don't have a "family" really.) I never trusted ANYONE in my life and had finally started to trust and to think she could have caused this just breaks my heart.
    Also, Thank you all so much for supporting me, you don't know how a few kind posts can really help me through the day! I worked all my life to "make something of myself" and move on from my traumatizing childhood and I feel like it could all be taken from me! Thank you all so much, I am not saying I am a victim, just wrong place, wrong time, decided to put trust in someone whom I shouldn't have
  10. by   mustlovepoodles
    Are they requiring you to seek any psychiatric care? I'm in an Impaired Professional Program due to severe depression with suicidal ideation for the past 7 weeks; I graduate in 2 days. I do not have a consent order but I am in group with several people who do. I don't know how it is that I am able to fly under the radar and they don't. I know its a PITA, but if you want to continue being a nurse I guess you'll have to comply with their rules, at least until you can get a hearing. I'm glad you've got an attorney. Hopefully he can be instrumental in getting this all sorted out. Good luck!
  11. by   nurseeB
    GotoGirl I am so sorry you are going through this. It's just so sad that as nurses we take care of everyone else, but when it comes to our coworkers they just as soon stab you in the back as smile at you. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers that everything works out for you. Keep your head up and take care of yourself.:hgu:
  12. by   whipping girl in 07
    The board should have presented you with all their evidence and given you an opportunity to respond to your accuser(s). What exactly did the consent agreement say? I have unfortunately dealt with the SBON and was publicly censured in the past. You can PM me if you want.

    I am so sorry you are going through this. You are in my thoughts and prayers. It's difficult and embarrassing, but you will get through it.
  13. by   sissiesmama
    Hey. I'm like whipping girl in that I have had to deal with the SBON in our state. Actually, my hubbie and I both have. PM if I can help at all. You're in my prayers.

    Anne, RNC
  14. by   lamazeteacher
    I would like to add my expression of support for you. You certainly got a raw deal! When you're vulnerable, the people around you can be like animals, who seek someone who has a weakness and go in for the kill.

    I'm a wannabe psych nurse, and although I've not worked on a unit, I find that I've always tried to apply what I know, in my work. It sounds to me like you were carrying out your roles as wife and nurse, well. That psych nurse had you buffalo'd by offering you consolation and then pouncing. That is a sure sign of "passive aggression". Beware of people who are just too nice!

    You have a lawyer, and I hope he/she's earned your trust, as hard as it is to bestow trust on anyone now. I like to find out what experience a lawyer has, when he/she is working for me (I'm divorced from one). Be sure yours is an expert in Labor law, and not a product of a law school that garners little respect (like some night schools, and online "universities"). Unlike doctors, lawyers don't do residencies in a specialty. They join a firm that specializes in the area of law in which they're interested, and almost have an apprenticeship with one of the partners there, for many years before becoming one themselves. So find out if he/she's an associate or partner.

    Then slip questions into your next meeting, like, "What happened with another client who had a problem similar to mine? Are you and the judges knowledgeable regarding the atmosphere in hospitals, and conditions under which nurses work?" I just went to a Labor lawyer about age discrimination I've experienced, and he volunteered that he was new in town. I asked him if he'd seen any of the judges here, and he replied that he had not. I suggested that he sit in their court rooms to see their perspectives, and decided not to hire him. Remember that your lawyer is your esteemed employee, and you have the right to find out what his/her game plan for your case is, in regard to how they represent you.

    My divorce lawyer decided at the last minute, upon being asked by my husband's attorney if the case could be postponed a month, that he'd do that. He didn't even call me that Friday. I just happened to call his office to see what time I should be in court the following Monday and his secretary told me that my case would be "continued". I said that I didn't want that, and she said, "There's nothing you can do about it".

    So I called a friend of mine who is an attorney, and asked her what I should do, as I had a trip planned the following month. She told me to go to court at 8 in the morning Monday, and when all the cases were called, stand and calmly say who I am, and that I was against a continuance, when the other lawyer said the case would be continued. (Since my lawyer hadn't asked for it, he wouldn't be there.) My heart was in my throat, but I did that, and the opposing lawyer hastily said, I'll see her out in the hall, your Honor."

    When we were in the hall, I told him that I hadn't known the plan he'd made with my lawyer, and I'd made arrangements to be out of the country by the end of the month. Later I realized that what I'd portrayed that day, was that I was a woman who wouldn't be shoved around! That lawyer toed the mark with me, and everything I said I wanted, was done. My lawyer was as impressed with what I'd done, almost as much as I was.

    The reason I'm writing this, is to let you know that it's important to hold your head high, when confronted with the issues they bring up, and give everyone the impression that your conversation with the psych nurse had been private, and she breached confidentiality. Seeing a psychiatrist (I've done that, too) is a sign of strength and willingness to face your "dragons". There is no shame and every reason to be congratulated about it. If you have a toothache, you see a dentist; and when you ache elsewhere, you see a doctor who can help you get better. Unless the medications prescribed for you had a warning label saying that you shouldn't drive, and/or you could be drowsy taking them, it was like any other medication, like an anticholesterol preparation.

    Most night nurses experience fatigue at work, and since your obligations toward your husband involved interrupting your sleep, that can be understood, as long as you got at least 6 hours of it. When you have less time to sleep, your mind accommodates that, and longer REM cycles (which provide the most rest) occur earlier than usual, lasting almost all the time you're asleep. Ask your attorney to mention that, and provide him with articles from the internet about it.

    Your employer had no right to have you tested for drugs and alcohol; and you were right to go along with that, ever the compliant employee. The results are very much in your favor. I had a bad experience when I worked nights, and tried to get on any other shift. Other nurses didn't want me to be on days, and some wanted to teach the childbirth preparation classes (without proper credentials), that I taught at the facility. They lied about me and before I knew it, I was out the door.

    There is very little that can be done regarding "wrongful discharge" if your state has "at will" employment practises. However, you've been maligned and that's something that can be fought. When "character assassination" takes place without cause, it puts employers who do nothing to correct that, look very bad in court. Ask your attorney if he/she will stipulate that. Having your psychiatrist in court to testify (a letter will not suffice) that there was no reason from a mental health standpoint, to keep you from working the schedule you had, both employers owe you for the time you've lost, due to placing emphasis wrongly without basis in fact that you couldn't work satisfactorily. In this country, we must observe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty!
    Last edit by lamazeteacher on Apr 2, '09 : Reason: clarification