Safety concerns for psych ER

  1. I posted last week about my boss' refusal to schedule staff in the psych ER where I work. Specifically, he refuses to schedule a tech for every other weekend that has a 4 hour window when only 1 nurse is scheduled.

    After two emails and a phone conversation he sent out a fairly angry (in tone) email that states he will NOT change the schedule under any circumstances and that we should request a tech from the Main ER charge nurse. If she doesn't provide one then we should call the house supervisor and then him, only if the house supervisor is unable to provide assistance. The ER is not overstaffed with techs and pulling a tech from the medical side usually leaves them understaffed, unless it is a slow night. Also, most techs aren't familiar with psych, our procedures, or even how to deal with most of our patients.

    I am under the impression that, in the state of Florida, staff working in psych facilities have to undergo a more thorough background check and fingerprinting that most hospital staff. I'm also wondering if putting the fact that he will not change the schedule in writing could come back to haunt him.

    Any thoughts?

    BTW, I do plan on leaving this facility early next year but have to stick around 'til at least then.
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   Patient_Care_Asst
    So am I to understand your "safety" is the issue and not the staff scheduling itself?

    That's the approach you need to take on the matter with your boss.

    My Best.
  4. by   New2ER
    Quote from Patient_Care_Asst
    So am I to understand your "safety" is the issue and not the staff scheduling itself?

    That's the approach you need to take on the matter with your boss.

    My Best.
    It's a staffing issue that directly leads to a safety issue. Having a single staff member in a locked unit with unknown numbers of patients (it is an ER) and unpredictable patients (which all psych patients are) puts both patients and staff members in danger. In fact, when the hospital hired an outside firm to audit them before JACHO, one of the problems they pointed out was the staff is frequently left alone in our department.

    My emails to our supervisor specifically stated that I do not feel safe in a locked unit alone. His response was that I needn't "flood" him with emails (I sent him two over a week and a half) and that the charge RN is responsible for staffing from the people she has coming in. It's change of shift, she's getting report from offgoing shift and has to figure out who to put with me? The schedule is put out a month in advance with these gaps. Wouldn't it be easier and safer for all involved if he just scheduled someone? Am I missing something?

    At this point, I'm just fed up. I love my patients but there is no reason why I should put myself in danger to save the facility a few bucks.
  5. by   Patient_Care_Asst
    I completely agree. I am a male "nurse" for what it's worth and I understand your situation completely.

    I have many years of experience with ER/Psych patients and I feel your personal safety is severely compromised by the actions (or lack of action) of your employer.

    Your "boss" has an obligation to provide you with a safe working environment under federal law. Nurses like yourself are not working in the "labor camps of Cambodia" and you are therefore protected by workers legislation and labor laws of the United States.

    If you feel your safety is compromised for any reason (and in any way)you can request your employer to conduct a safety evaluation. They must provide you with a detailed response to your request and provide corrective action.

    Your "boss" is also required by federal law to comply with your concerns and must conduct a safety evaluation and take immediate corrective action in any situation that might serve to compromise employee safety.

    Therefore, you may request your employer to conduct a safety evaluation of this situation you have described. Do this in writing. Include the lack of any personnel that is not available on the nursing unit for this purpose. Indicate a lack of any staff assistance and describe how this has the potential for compromising your personal **AND** patient safety. Be sure to include dates and outline any previous responses, action or lack of action on behalf of your employer.

    OSHA Federal Regulation:

    29 CFR 1903.11(d) Section 11(c)(1) of the Act provides:

    "No person shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding or because of the exercise by such employee on behalf of himself or others of any right afforded by this Act."

    I hope this helps. Please indicate if you have any questions or if I can be of further assistance.

    My Best and I only wish I could be there to offer you futher assistance.

    Take care my fellow colleague.

    Charles - ER/PCA
    Last edit by Patient_Care_Asst on Oct 13, '07
  6. by   HM2VikingRN
    Absolutely unsafe. 25 years of exp in psych tells me that this needs to be brought up with his boss....Best of luck.

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