Wrongly accused of being drunk on duty!! - ******** hits a new low

  1. I have been working as an agency nurse in the UK for many years on and off. I have worked in the A&E Dept in one hospital mainly and had thought I had a good reputation there. I did have some years off for health and family reasons and when I got back to work some of the faces were the same, some had changed. I was always treated with respect from the staff I had worked with previously, but some of the new nurses, that didn't know me treated me terribly. ie. they wouldn't give me the code for staff room, wouldn't let me do my own meds, and used me as a porter for them on many occasions! They were also barely friendly. One shift I was on with a particular nurse, and had noticed that the shift wasn't quite right, every time I asked for a recap of the patients I was shunned. Near the end of the shift the co-ordinator called me into office and apologised initially (she knows me well), and asked me if I had been drinking alcohol on duty as two staff nurses had reported smelling alcohol on me! I denied it - I am teetotal actually, and offered to do a breathaliser and blood tests there and then. She said that wasn't required as she believed me. A week later, following a shift where this one nurse in particular (who had accused me) was obviously friendly with the coordinator of this shift and was obviously ******** about me, that I actually spent some time in the wc crying. I went on my break (night shift) to my car and sat listening to the radio, when I fell asleep and was 1/2 hr late getting back from break for which I apologised profusely. Anyhow last week after apparently no shifts available all week, I was called into my agency and again asked if I had a drink problem. The statement read that when I had returned late from that break - I had smelled strongly of perfume and mints!! Guilty obviously. I find that a quick freshen up does wonders to keep you going on a night shift, and yes, I do eat mints.
    Now this week there are no shifts available once again. Thanks to the recession I am the sole breadwinner in my family, and it seems that I am being denied work for something that I am innocent of.

    I have had an investigation a couple of months ago as an agency nurse, for withholding tinzaparin as I had noted that it was order 3 days previously and their nurses hadn't given it. I brought the staffs attention to this and no one could provide an explanation. I couldn't get access to pt's INR as agency nurse, and other staff were clueless. I ended up being cleared of malpractice and apolgised to but I cannot help but feel that the agency now think I am trouble - despite the fact that I was cleared and innocent in both scenarios. What can I do?
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    About District46

    Joined: Apr '05; Posts: 31; Likes: 28
    Agency RN, Assessor/Tutor; from UK
    Specialty: 15 year(s) of experience in Accident and Emergency, Tutor & Assessor


  3. by   2BSure
    I can only give my my advice w/ hindsight. If I was ever accused of drinking or drugging at work I would insist on a blood test. I mean insist.

    Surely this is not the only agency in the area?
  4. by   caliotter3
    Had you insisted on testing in each instance, you would have been cleared of those allegations. At this point your reputation is being tarnished by gossip and innuendo and you are most likely not receiving offers of work because of it. This will continue until you are not working at all, constructively dismissed from your agency, unless you become proactive. When you are accused again, get tested. Clear your name.
    Last edit by caliotter3 on Jun 29, '09
  5. by   District46
    On the first instance, when I was confronted, I did ask for a test, three times but the sister refused, saying it wasn't necessary. I was in shock but I agree, I should have absolutely insisted. The second time, I wasn't aware that this accusation was being made until the following week when I was called into the agency and asked if I had a problem. There are other agencies, and I intend to get a permanent position. I just wondered if I could sue for slander? I am so angry right now I cannot describe what I want to do to this girl who is making the trouble for me.
  6. by   priznrn135
    For whatever the reason, they have it in for you, plain and simple. But, even if you get tested, they are going to make up something different. I do work for an agency as well so I know that if for some reason they are going to be haters, it's going to happen. While it is necessary to "clear your name," you need to clear your sanity. If the sister has no problem with you and/or your agency does not, then I would look for another job with the staffing service. Otherwise, you can keep working where you are at and shake off the haters. Also, on kind of a side note, some of those hand sanitizers smell like straight vodka!
  7. by   District46
    Actually, everything happens for a reason as they say! It has spurred me forwards in applying for some permanent positions, and enrolling for my teaching qualification. These things I always said I was going to do, but for some reason wasn't getting round to it! So it has pushed me forward. I have a new job - permanent, starting at a hospital much closer to me, but I also have an interview on Tuesday for an occupational health position, which I am really interested in. I have done years of emergency nursing, but want to get a more sedate position now I am in my 40's. THanks for the replys. Mainly, I get asked to go back time and again in my agency jobs, so this was unusual, but I am not giving any more thought - life is too short for haters as you Americans say!!:rcgtku:
  8. by   elb252
    Wow...I guess everything really does happen for a reason!! I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming interviews and your current job hunt...Hard to believe that, as adults, we're still forced to put up with junior-high drama. It never goes away, does it?
  9. by   caliotter3
    The problem with adult junior high drama is that it has adult consequences.
  10. by   karenchad
    Amen, exactly. I wish there could be some kind of test in nursing to gt these haters our of the profession and keep them out. this is a major problem in nursing . JCAHO has issues this Jan 2009 a patient saftey goal referring to this kind of behavior in nursing- the American Nursing Association issued a position statement on this very subject-" Lateral Violence" is a very informative statement/article- it is under the heading workplace and is a drop down box, or if you just search for the Lateral Violence article on the ANA site it will appear- I re-read it periodically to reassure myself it's not me. It's disgraceful that this happens in nursing.
  11. by   District46
    Thank you so much for the supportive replies. I have learnt so much from this experience. At the moment I am just happy to have moved on, and start a permanent position at a more local hospital in two weeks time. In the meantime I am working as an agency nurse. I have refused to go back to the A&E Dept, but they have also asked the agency not to place me there and that is what smarts - how they can do that when I was not in the wrong. My ten year old daughter comes home from school with her playground problems and I have had to tell her that she needs to develop skills to overcome these people because she will encounter this type of problem even when she becomes an adult and goes out to work!!

    Maybe one day I can make use of the experience and use it to help in some way - teaching or counselling other nurses, or even helping to make policies for this type of problem. It is interesting in that it does affect patient safety. Nurses who are under this type of attack don't tend to have their minds fully on the job. This is where managers should be concerned if there is a difficulty in proving an episode of bullying, which is often the case. Please understand my use of the word "bullying". It makes people feel ashamed, and that is why so many people fail to report it and keep quiet. Although I was being made to feel uncomfortable, I am not a weak person, and these people did not ............ok here I am now, trying to justify myself and how others see me. It is a complex problem. Im my case it would be difficult to prove that their intentions were anything other than concern. And that is why I was left without a leg to stand on in terms of retaliation. It still makes me angry just thinking about it. On the good side though, there are also a lot of really lovely nurses, who abhor this type of behaviour, and have redeemed my own faith in human nature. For as much bad, there is good, in the world.
  12. by   BEDPAN76
    Hi Angel, Good to hear from you again! You sound a lot more positive. Glad things worked out for you. You are a SURVIVOR! This kind of **** happens more often than you know. (false accusations). It's sad but true. I had similar issues several years ago. Maybe you can prevent this from happening to another poor nurse. Thanks again for the update, and keep us posted!
  13. by   caliotter3
    Glad to hear that things are improving for you. Hope you never have problems like this again.