nurses who self injure

  1. hello
    i am a RN who works part time in geropsych and part time at another hospital on general surgical ward.

    i have scars on my upper arms from previous years when i used to cut myself. recently these were discovered by a co worker, who has complained to the DON about me, stating i am unfit for work, i am "crazy", and has made up allegations of things i have said and done to her that are not true. However no one believes me as i am the "mentally ill" one apparantly. they sent the crisis team to my house (for scars on my arms that are years old, as well as allegations from this other nurse that i am suicidal - which is not the case.) i wasnt home when the MH people came by as i was at my other job. now i dont know what to say to them tomorrow???? no one believes anything i say. It seems it has been decided already that i have lost the plot.

    i dont mind if i lose the job, as i dont want to work at a facility where things like this go on, but i am scared now that the DON might ring my other place of work and tell them i am not fit for work. can she do this? can she ring the board and have me suspended because it is her opinion i am "mentally unstable" even tho it is not the case, and there is no evidence of this?? i havent done anything wrong, except a HX of SI years ago...i am on anti depressant meds curently, wiill this make me look bad?? i know people who have been de-registered due to mental health problems, and it scares me that it might happen to me. surely this cant be right! i havent done anything! what can i do to show them i am ok??
    •  
  2. 56 Comments

  3. by   Psi
    Quote from sax_journey
    hello
    i am a RN who works part time in geropsych and part time at another hospital on general surgical ward.

    i have scars on my upper arms from previous years when i used to cut myself. recently these were discovered by a co worker, who has complained to the DON about me, stating i am unfit for work, i am "crazy", and has made up allegations of things i have said and done to her that are not true. However no one believes me as i am the "mentally ill" one apparantly. they sent the crisis team to my house (for scars on my arms that are years old, as well as allegations from this other nurse that i am suicidal - which is not the case.) i wasnt home when the MH people came by as i was at my other job. now i dont know what to say to them tomorrow???? no one believes anything i say. It seems it has been decided already that i have lost the plot.

    i dont mind if i lose the job, as i dont want to work at a facility where things like this go on, but i am scared now that the DON might ring my other place of work and tell them i am not fit for work. can she do this? can she ring the board and have me suspended because it is her opinion i am "mentally unstable" even tho it is not the case, and there is no evidence of this?? i havent done anything wrong, except a HX of SI years ago...i am on anti depressant meds curently, wiill this make me look bad?? i know people who have been de-registered due to mental health problems, and it scares me that it might happen to me. surely this cant be right! i havent done anything! what can i do to show them i am ok??
    Whatever problems you have, unless they are affecting your ability to work safely as a nurse are nothing to with your employer. It looks to me like you have a good case to bring a grievance against the person who reported you. If you were currently self harming it would probably be a different matter, but six years is a very long time and it is difficult to see how anyone could use that to justify dismissal. It is your colleague who has put her job in danger by lying and making defamatory comments.
  4. by   SusanJean
    I would not take a passive stance with this situation. If the scars are in fact as old as you say they are, you are not in any active crisis. And that aside, the woman obviously does not (nor does the DON) understand self-multilation. It is not a suicidal attempt.

    Your MH history from yrs ago should not be impeding your present work. Ask your DON if she is happy w/ performance. That is the issue. File a grievance against your nosy coworker. Better yet, ask your DON to provide her with the appropriate education so she doesn't make the same medical error twice!!

    The fact that you are on medication shows that you are receiving tx for your depression and are under the care of a physician. I have a feeling that if all nurses and doctors and caregivers that were on antidepressants were not allowed to practice 1/2 to 2/3 of the providers would be out of business.
    Last edit by SusanJean on Mar 7, '05
  5. by   CharlieRN
    SusanJean is on the mark.

    If it is an employment issue then they should need to show that your ablity to preform your duties is impaired by your suposed illness.

    Ask to see your employer's policy about employing persons who have had psychiatric treatment. If they have gone on paper with a statement that noone who has had treatment can ever be employed at your facility, then they may have grounds for termination. My own employer has a stipulation that to be hired one needs to be at least 2 years without needing treatment.
    If your DON were to call either the board or your other employer that would be grounds for legal action for slander. You may already have such grounds against your co-worker. Talk to a lawyer. My understanding is that if what someone says is false and harms you, then you have a case.
  6. by   sax_journey
    My employer has passed these allegations to my other place of employment. i was called into the management office and had to meet with the DON and some person from the crisis team and undergo lengthy interviews about this supposed things that happened, i have now been accused of threatening harm against residents, and i have this in a written report that was given to them. this is not true!!! someone has made these things up!!!

    the place where these allegations originated has still yet to discuss this matter with me at all. i have spoken to a lawyer re: slander and defamation, and he states i have a great case. so i wrote them a letter stating my intent to take legal acion. they rang straight away and deny that they mentioned anyhting to my other job(but i have written report from them about it!!), they also deny discussing it with my other collegues (but my collegues rang me and told me about discussions that took place about this).....they tried to sweet talk me into to meeting them today they reckon they were "just concerned for my well being, they are worried about me, and that we can work everything out".....i refused to attend the meeting with out a union representative....they then stated they had appointments all afternoon and would have to post pone the meeting.....oh and they told me it "wasn't necesscary" to have a union rep present. ...yeah right....then they told me i was suspended from work until further notice...

    i am so angry, i have done nothing!!! now this is on record at both my jobs, and on my "mental health record"........its not right, i am a very varing and competent nurse....i would never hurt a resident. i cry every time one dies.


    Thank God that my other place of employment realised these allegations are crazy---i would NEVER hurt a resident.....but now i just dont know what to do....should i just quit and forget about it? but its not fair i havent done anything!!! i am so angry.....sorry but i just dont know who to ask for advice....the union doesnt want to know, cz i live in the state border, and am a member in one state, but not the state that this facility is in,.....supposedly if u r memeber in one state, u r covered country wide if u register that u work in a another state, but the union sayd its a complicated case, and too draining on their resourses, and the other office sayd its not in their state so nothing to do with them.... i have talked to a lawyer, but it is so expensive, especuially now i am susp[ended, is it worth it>? i just dontknow....please help!!! should i just go to the meeting alone, what should i say,.....i just dont know what to do, i am sure they cant do this!!!!!!

    thanks for listening
  7. by   renerian
    I read your post and situation and wow I was instantly hot. I would be filing a complaint so fast it would make people's heads spin. Personnally I would seek a lawsuit to let them know it is not appropriate to spread that kind of crap around. I am with Charlie on this one.

    I don't usually say that but this situation was totally inappropriate and could have turned out very bad for you........

    ren
  8. by   z's playa
    Quote from sax_journey
    hello
    i am a RN who works part time in geropsych and part time at another hospital on general surgical ward.

    i have scars on my upper arms from previous years when i used to cut myself. recently these were discovered by a co worker, who has complained to the DON about me, stating i am unfit for work, i am "crazy", and has made up allegations of things i have said and done to her that are not true. However no one believes me as i am the "mentally ill" one apparantly. they sent the crisis team to my house (for scars on my arms that are years old, as well as allegations from this other nurse that i am suicidal - which is not the case.) i wasnt home when the MH people came by as i was at my other job. now i dont know what to say to them tomorrow???? no one believes anything i say. It seems it has been decided already that i have lost the plot.

    i dont mind if i lose the job, as i dont want to work at a facility where things like this go on, but i am scared now that the DON might ring my other place of work and tell them i am not fit for work. can she do this? can she ring the board and have me suspended because it is her opinion i am "mentally unstable" even tho it is not the case, and there is no evidence of this?? i havent done anything wrong, except a HX of SI years ago...i am on anti depressant meds curently, wiill this make me look bad?? i know people who have been de-registered due to mental health problems, and it scares me that it might happen to me. surely this cant be right! i havent done anything! what can i do to show them i am ok??

    What can you do to show them you're ok? Show them your arm! The cuts are old. If you came to work with fresh cuts, then they could send you to see someone to make sure you're ok. But even then they couldnt fire you. Get a lawyer! I'm pretty sure when your council sends the hospital a letter stating you are willing to go the distance they'll back off. But then again do you really want to work in a place full of pecking hens?
  9. by   payday
    It's a d*#x shame how our society treats those who had or have mental illness. We are still in the stone age on this one.

    What are people supposed to do. Sit home and withdraw from society and go broke.

    Much work needs done to educate employers about this. Best of luck, I hope you find a compassionate lawyer.
  10. by   danu3
    This make me really sad because the stigma of mental illness also reaches DEEP within the nursing profession. I mean you see attitudes like psych nursing is nor real nursing. Psych nursing is "easy" (right, try interacting with someone who is in full blown psychosis). But in your situation, it just has gone too far.

    Keep your cool in this and be professional so that they will have nothing to go against you, especially in court. Manage your stress level as much as reasonable. Do not give them any impression that you are hiding anything.

    Since they are "scared" now because you go to a lawyer and you do have a great case, use the leverage and demand an investigation of the nurse who accuse you and take appropriate diciplinary action against that nurse. Your reason is not revenge. Your reason is the good of the hospital just as they are "concern" over you and for the good of the hospital. Your reason is that if it can be happen to you, it can happen to anyone in the hospital with this nurse accusing people base on really bad observation skills (what happened to the critical thinking stuff that nurses are train in). This kind of jumping to conclusion accusing is bad for moral, cost the hospitals tons of mony, have effect on quality patient care, ... etc. Remember, stay professional. You are not seeking revenge. You are seeking the good for the hospital and try to prevent future incidents that could happen to other people.

    What else, since they are "sweet" talking you, you can use it to force them to come up with a investigation system so things like this won't happened again and you will be take part in comming up with this process and implementating it AND getting pay for it.

    Not only can you threaten legal action, you can threaten media related action in the news paper. This can be your next Ace. Don't use it if you don't need it.

    If you really have a solid case, contact your local NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) and maybe ask for support in terms of letter writing. Or the stigma buster arm of NAMI if that goes to the newspaper (they have a strong letter writing "army").

    -Dan
  11. by   danu3
    Quote from sax_journey
    hello


    i have scars on my upper arms from previous years when i used to cut myself. recently these were discovered by a co worker, who has complained to the DON about me, stating i am unfit for work, i am "crazy", and has made up allegations of things i have said and done to her that are not true.

    However no one believes me as i am the "mentally ill" one apparantly. they sent the crisis team to my house (for scars on my arms that are years old, as well as allegations from this other nurse that i am suicidal - which is not the case.) i wasnt home when the MH people came by as i was at my other job. now i dont know what to say to them tomorrow???? no one believes anything i say. It seems it has been decided already that i have lost the plot.
    "crazy"... this just make my blood boil comming from a nurse. That nurse must barely passed her psych rotation in nursing school... Doesn't she know clinically there is no such thing as "crazy"?

    Nurses like that give the nursing profession a real bad name. Ironic isn't it in this case... we have a "mentally healthy" nurse who is a bad nurse and a "mentally ill" nurse who has her symptom under control turn out to be the good nurse. If I was sick, I'll take you as my nurse anytime over the other nurse.

    I applaud you for having recover enough from your illness to have a career. Not just any career, a nursing career.

    Just a wild thought, how bad are those cuts of yours? I wonder if you can put tatoo around them or something so that it becomes a work of art instead if people happened to see them...

    -Dan

    ps. Another thought... legally, I think certain type of mental illness also qualify under "disability". If your illness somehow qualify, your employer could be in big trouble under the antidiscrimination laws dealing with disability.
  12. by   TitaniaSidhe
    I have to say I am in agreement. I would sollicit a lawyer & sue the hospital right on down through all people involved in this incident. I would also tack on the cost of lost income, pain & suffering if possible & in this way perhaps it would help counter the legal expense. I would NOT however let it go, you are worth more than that sort of treatment. Maintain a professional attitude & conduct, which would be much more than they themselves could claim...
  13. by   danu3
    I am sure you are doing it, just in case... document, document, document everything.

    As for your union, if they represent you well, just think of the good will the union will generate among its member and potentially for future recruiting.

    As for lawyers, you might really seriously contact your local NAMI chapters and ask around to see if there are some good local lawyers around who is familiar with mental health issues and employment. Worth a shot.

    -Dan
  14. by   Soleilpie
    wow! i was so angry after reading your post sax. i cannot believe that everyone automatically believes this other nurse over you because of this perception that if you have a mental illness, you must also be a liar or untrustworthy period! what a shame! if anyone needs to be scrutinized, it's your co-worker. i'm not sure how this all works, but i wonder why the don didn't come talk to you first before sending out the crisis team and believing your co-worker? a nurse who lies should not be working as a nurse. i hope you are able to pursue this to the fullest extent. this just can't happen to anyone else. the doctor who is caring for you now could probably help you out with this as well. good luck sax! i'll be thinking of you.

close