Abuse Accusations

Updated | Posted
by Jess0418 (New) New Nurse Student

Has 3 years experience.

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I was at work a couple evenings ago and had a resident continue to ask for toilet paper, which is a common behavior for her.  I went into her room and saw that she had a full roll and I advised her that she had enough for the evening and that once I found someone in housekeeping (they keep the toilet paper locked up) that I would get her more. She continued to argue that she needed more right now and I kept explaining that I was unable to get her more right now.  She began to literally scream that she wanted more toilet paper and was making a huge scene in the hallway.  
I charted on the behavior and was very detailed in it, making sure I stated that I went to her room to ensure that she had enough toilet paper, and that I assured her that I would get her more once I saw someone from housekeeping.  I stated in my charting that she was yelling and that since we could not get her to calm down using reassurance, we began to ignore the BEHAVIOR (not her).  

I was told by my DON and administrator that they have to turn that in for potential abuse, and now I am absolutely freaking out that I’m going to lose my license.  Has anyone ever had to deal with anything like this?  I’m in Illinois.  I’ve only been a nurse for 2 years. I really hope I didn’t just ruin my career 

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,483 Posts

45 minutes ago, Jess0418 said:

 Has anyone ever had to deal with anything like this?  I’m in illinois.  I’ve only been a nurse for 2 years

Yes, Jess, something very similar, and I, too, am in Illinois. While working at the state hospital, back in '93, I was accused of "client neglect/abuse".

I tried to make the med pass, for example, more entertaining for everybody. Whenever a client did not come for their meds, the nurse would typically yell in their high-pitched voices, something like, "JOHNNY! COME GETCHER MEDS!"  that would resonate through the rafters. I instead would sing in an operatic voice, 
♪ JOHNNY, COME GET YOUR MEEEEEEEEEEDS!♪

The clients seemed to enjoy this, I would entertain them in other ways, and they seemed to be drawn to me.

One time, a fella, smiling, said he wanted a Tylenol for a headache, of which I believed he only wanted attention. So, I put my hand on his forehead and in a voice like a TV evangelist, said, "BE HEEEEEALED FROM YOUR HEADACHE!" He went away smiling.

An administrator was investigating some other complaint made about me by a doctor when a tech told the administrator the healing story. We all had a good laugh about it, but I was suspended for 15 days, both for the healing incident and something that I had said to the doctor.

I went IDES and the adjudicator ruled in my favor, on both counts, so I received benefits for part of the time that I was suspended.

Two and a half years later, INA was able to get me my full wages for the time I was suspended and had the neglect/abuse charges sponged from my record.

I realize this is a very stressfully trying time for you, Jess. I recommend, both for logistics and your own mental health that you write down, by hand, everything you remember. Everything. This will be a great catharsis and will also prepare you for questioning during the investigation process. Sort of like being prepared for a test.

I have had multiple other complaints I've had to deal with throughout my 40+ year career, and basically feel good about myself.

Here's hoping that you too Jess, will feel good about yourself when this is all but a memory.

Good luck and the best to you.

Jess0418

Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

Thank you so much for your reply.  I will definitely write down everything I remember.  I also have a copy of the behavior note, and I really feel confident in how I worded things.  I guess I should have just left out the word “ignore”.   I hope this is over very soon.  

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,483 Posts

Not giving attention for a behavior can be very therapeutic as a form of behavior modification. Giving a negative behavior any sort of attention is a reinforcer. As you so aptly put it, you ignored the behavior and not the patient. Good for you, Jess.

I've gone as far as telling a patient something along the lines of, "If you continue this behavior, you are persona non gratia to me. And unless you're bleeding from one or more offices, you don't exist to me".

"Desperate times..."

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 1,941 Posts

Many people that work with patients in an inpatient setting have had to set boundaries and ignore certain behaviors in order to be able to provide care for other patients or residents. I'm sorry that you've been put through this and I hope that you will have no negative effects from this in the long term. It sounds like you documented, and acted, in an appropriate manner. Good luck!

summertx

Has 7 years experience. 139 Posts

20 hours ago, Jess0418 said:

 I stated in my charting that she was yelling and that since we could not get her to calm down using reassurance, we began to ignore the BEHAVIOR (not her).  
I was told by my DON and administrator that they have to turn that in for potential abuse, and now I am absolutely freaking out that I’m going to lose my license.  Has anyone ever had to deal with anything like this?  I’m in illinois.  I’ve only been a nurse for 2 years. I really hope I didn’t just ruin my career 

I'm not sure what they can report you for, was there a statement made by a CNA or other staff member (since you use the term 'we'), or the resident? I would probably refrain from stating you ignored a patient altogether in your charting. Better if you state that the patient had behaviors, you tried to calm them and the response remained the same.

Edited by summertx

Jess0418

Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

One of the CNAs that was on duty at the time was interviewed and she told the administrator exactly what happened. 
I just hope me using the word “ignore” didn’t just cost me my license.  

summertx

Has 7 years experience. 139 Posts

4 hours ago, Jess0418 said:

One of the CNAs that was on duty at the time was interviewed and she told the administrator exactly what happened. 
I just hope me using the word “ignore” didn’t just cost me my license.  

I don't think anything will happen to your license since you documented thoroughly and stated you tried to meet her needs. I would not speak to your DON or administrator, avoid them at all costs, keep a low profile and try to get out of there. 

Edited by summertx

Jess0418

Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

I’m suspended from there. Should I contact the state or the board myself to see what I need to do to protect myself?  Or just wait and see what happens?  
 

summertx

Has 7 years experience. 139 Posts

6 hours ago, Jess0418 said:

I’m suspended from there. Should I contact the state or the board myself to see what I need to do to protect myself?  Or just wait and see what happens?  
 

I would contact a lawyer. I wouldn't call the state or the board with this matter. If your DON/administrator  contact the state, be prepared for  the agent to contact you if they investigate. Since abuse can be he said/she said and with a dementia and/or psychotic patient, a lawyer seems to be your best option. 

Edited by summertx

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,483 Posts

It's interesting how people who have no experience in major matters freely give advice to others.

It's even surprising that some take that advice.

Based on empirical experience, I would be willing to bet a dime to a dollar that no nurses license is in jeopardy of being lost when no abuse occurred.

When I was suspended for "client neglect/abuse" I went to IDES in order to have governmental documentation that there were no grounds for my suspension.

As the INA was a part of both the government and state hospital, they were actively involved with fruitful results.

I did not even consider seeking a lawyer's advice, even though I could have gotten it at no charge from an in-law.

Follow in the footsteps of those who have traveled the same path and successfully reached their journey's goal.

 

summertx

Has 7 years experience. 139 Posts

5 minutes ago, Davey Do said:

It's interesting how people who have no experience in major matters freely give advice to others.

 

It's not advice, it's common sense. The OP is suspended. 

Edited by summertx