Unsafe doctor...do I report it?

  1. Do I report this?
    Recently a doctor at an elective surgery facility came to work ill. This doctor had a fever, diarrhea, diaphoretic, asked an anesthesiologist to start an iv, fluids and medicines too stop nausea and vomiting. This doctor had patients prepped and waiting to have surgery during this time, then performed these elective surgeries. I feel obligated to report this. Who do I report it to? Can I remain anonymous? I don't want this to come back to me.
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   HouTx
    Did any adverse events actually occur? If not, what would you be reporting? This is important because it would guide your actions. Actual patient events would go through your risk management/incident report process. But if it is an "unprofessional behavior" issue, this would most likely be handled via the medical staff structure. In many organizations, medical staff issues are handled by the Medical Executive Committee. I'm most bothered by the idea of physicians feeling as though can help themselves to meds and IVF. Aside from the ethical issues of 'treating oneself', who the heck is going to pay for these supplies?
  4. by   Munimula
    Well, this doctor was knowingly in the OR with some sort of virus/bacterial infection and performing surgery. If we, as nurses, came to work that way (fever, diarrhea, vomiting), we would be sent home, not "treated" then sent into the OR. So, to me, the doctor put their patients at risk by knowingly exposing them to whatever virus/bacteria they had. It seems unethical. As much as I know this is wrong, I fear repricussions should I report this. And that bothered me too; the elective surgery business is not a treatment center. They were not life or death surgeries that needed to be done immediately. They could have been cancelled and rescheduled. We would be sent home and told to go to our primary doctor. The doctor's patients were not aware of the doctor's illness either. They were simply left waiting in the preoperative area, ready for surgery, until the doctor's "treatment" (fluids, medicine) was done. I feel as if they were entitled to "full disclosure" of the state of their doctor.
  5. by   Here.I.Stand
    Well in another thread I expressed willingness to report an RN (hypothetical situation -- I don't know anyone who has done this) who came to work with flu or noro. It's impaired practice and a huge infection risk. I would think a surgeon would pose even more risk to pts. In my state BON reports can be made anonymously, not sure about BOM. You could call your facility's risk management dept to ask for advice.
  6. by   not.done.yet
    Nurses would be sent home for being sick? On what planet? I don't mean to be flip but no...that pretty much never happens due to the chronic state of short staffing. Most of us have gotten sick during a shift and a watery sympathetic smile from the charge nurse with encouragement to wear a mask.
  7. by   brownbook
    I'm not sure what your worry is? The surgeon was unfit to do the surgery? He was exposing the patients to his illness?

    i don't know what would come back to you if you reported it? What type of vindictive place do you work in?

    I don't know why you'd want to be anonymous?

    By now it is so long after the fact I don't see any good to report it to anyone. I assume no patient was harmed? We really wouldn't know if one of them ended up with the same "bug" later on?

    I assume the surgeon and the anesthesiologist (who has a big stake in a good patient outcome and is not going to sedate a patient if he feels the surgeon is unfit), felt the surgeries could be done. Rescheduling patients who have jumped through all the "hoops" to have their surgeries done. Taken time off work, gotten babysitters, gotten rides home, etc. Having them reschedule everything is not easy for anyone. Even elective procedures can still be a big deal to the patient. No it's not worth risking their lives!

    I doubt it would happen again. As others have said, staff come to work ill, not having slept, etc. Unfortunately surgeons and anesthesiologist frequently have to work on little if any sleep in a 24 hour period if they are on call.

    If a similar situation occurs you need to pull up your big girl panties, (I do feel for you, I am a shy quiet person also), and in a casual, non accusatory way, tell your charge nurse your concerns.
  8. by   Munimula
    I loathe that expression, "put on your big girl panties". I came here asking for help, not looking to be derided. That is not helpful, only rude. I am a grown women with a husband, two grown children, and elderly parents, and you are telling me to 'put on my big girl panties". I was asking for advice; where to report and how Clearly I can't discuss this at work because we are not supposed to discuss it. Yes thqt's the way it is. No, you really can't trust anyone. We don't speak against surgeons because they're the one's bringing in the business and that's the bottom line. What they want, they get.
  9. by   not.done.yet
    But you have not clarified what you want to speak about? If HE felt safe to do surgery, then he should be trusted unless you saw evidence to the contrary. Illness is unfortunate and he probably felt like crap doing it, but if he was following protocol, wearing a mask, keeping sterile fields sterile and not impaired, what exactly is the problem?
  10. by   morte
    To the OP, what is it about this doc tht you don't like? because that is how you are coming across, as someone trying to "get" someone.
  11. by   cdibley
    Totally see how this a gray area for you and something you are unsure about. Sorry about some peeps above being kinda snarky, they were rude and condescending, you were just asking for advice. They could have just said they personally don't see what you would be reporting and go from there. Wording is everything. So I agree that you were concerned about him operating, but I agree if he and the anesthesiologist felt like he was okay to do surgery, he probably was. Risky though. Now I understand he could have had some type of pathogen that could have been passed to the patient, yes even with the mask, there is that risk, however proving to the medical board that he caused harm would lead nowhere. I probably would let it go, unless something during surgery went wrong due to his inability to operate and I NEVER fear retaliation, I have to do what's right or my heart feels too heavy. I'd honestly rather be out of a job and broke than not do what I feel is right, especially for patients that don't have an ability to speak for themselves. You should never fear writing an incident report, just think what's the worst that happen? your fired? not likely, and so what if the hospital is unethical? But of course there's lots of jobs where I live.
  12. by   pixierose
    Quote from not.done.yet
    But you have not clarified what you want to speak about? If HE felt safe to do surgery, then he should be trusted unless you saw evidence to the contrary. Illness is unfortunate and he probably felt like crap doing it, but if he was following protocol, wearing a mask, keeping sterile fields sterile and not impaired, what exactly is the problem?
    ^^^ This.

    And I don't say this lightly. I have surgery coming up in a few weeks. Like someone said, they are tough to schedule (for a multitude of reasons; I have two specialities for mine attending, for example). I trust my surgeon(s) and the team. If protocol is followed, fields sterile etc etc ... I'd rather have my surgery go on as scheduled than reschedule ... another month++ from now.

    My "elective" procedure is going to tell us a lot about an ongoing issue that's scary as hell for me; I'd rather they get it done if they feel safe to do so.
  13. by   amzyRN
    I wouldn't report it because it's subjective and unless he actually harmed someone you'd have no case or cause. You'd create animosity with him possibly and I don't know how often you need to work with this person, but it might be very uncomfortable if he knows it's you who reported it. Just because he was sick doesn't mean he posed a risk if he followed infection protocols. You could always ask your manager what they think without making a formal complaint. Or you could tell the surgeon that you felt uncomfortable that he was performing surgery when he was sick. We are all just people at the end of the day and should be able to talk to eachother about things.
  14. by   brownbook
    Really sorry my big girl panties line came off as offensive. As I added I am a shy quite person and it is a comment I have to frequently make to myself. I meant no offense and do apologize.

    I said report to your charge nurse. Obviously you cannot do that. I looked on Google, most states have some kind of agency you can contact. Some are annynomous, some aren't.
    Last edit by brownbook on Mar 3 : Reason: Grammar

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