supervisor liabilty

  1. I am a state prison nurse. If my supervisor tells me to do something unsafe, she says she is liable because she ordered me to. I know the nazi defense that 'I was ordered to' is not valid for nurses, but need some documentation to convince the military style system that she is not correct. After nursing for 25 years I can't remember where I know this from. The issue is petty but common in this system. If it isn't of great importance it never gets heard outside the building. I don't know where I can appeal to. The other supervisors ( non medical) think because she has the power she has the knowledge. Their system does work like that. I get verbally reprimanded for not following orders that are unsafe. They don't give me time off so I can't grieve it outside the institution. It stops at the 3rd level. The union is great but has limits. Who in the state system can help me?
  2. Visit nannygoat99 profile page

    About nannygoat99

    Joined: Mar '02; Posts: 2
    staff nurse


  3. by   Nurse LB
    Hi! I know exactly where you are coming from! I've been in your situation numerous times but was fortunate enough to have gone over my supervisor's head and was supported by the next line supervisor. (It didn't do a whole lot for the relationship between me-n-the boss though.) I would assume you could contact the Ohio Board of Nursing and get the information you are needing. Oh by the way, I was born at St. Ritas Hospital in Lima, Ohio, and moved to KY, when I was 12. I've worked in Corrections for more than 16 years now.
  4. by   sjoe
    nonny: it is not clear just what kind of activity you are talking about being "unsafe." Unsafe because the inmate is a convicted rapist and you think he might attack you if you take his blood pressure? Unsafe because you aren't licensed to do appendectomies? Security or healthcare related kind of unsafe? Unsafe for whom? Is it nursing stuff outside your scope of practice and/or outside the institution's policies and procedures?
    With all that said, "You can trust me, I'm from the government," "Don't worry, Baby, I'll pull out just before I come," etc. kinds of assurances such as hers mean little. Is your supervisor offering you this support in writing? Is it being videorecorded? Is it witnessed by someone who would stick up for you in a court of law? Not very likely. How would you prove you were "ordered" to do something? She may or may not be liable, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't be, as well.
    Doesn't your institution have a director of nursing? A medical director? A legal department?
    By the way, obviously your union is anything but "great," if it won't supply you with what you need in a case like this.
  5. by   JailRN
    Document, document, document.
  6. by   Orca
    Originally posted by JailRN
    Document, document, document.
    I could not agree more. If something is questionable, it is advisable to put in writing that you spoke with Supervisor X on date Y at time Z, and that you were directed to do what you did. This will help to cover you, provided that you are not doing something outside your scope of practice, or something that a reasonable person should know is unsafe.

    Another possible response is to tell the supervisor that, in your professional judgment, the directive you have been given is unsafe. You may also explain your reasons. Since we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions, this may be a good course under certain circumstances.
  7. by   TerriRene
    I have been to court and beleive me IT GETS UGLY IN THERE!! If you think that the facility or your supervisor will cover you then you better think again. IT IS EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!! Unfortunately the nurse is usually hung out to dry since you can not pay for the high price legal counsel. My advice: GET THE HELL OUT OF THE POSITION. IT IS BETTER TO LOSE YOUR JOB THAN YOUR LICENSE!!
  8. by   Orca
    Fortunately, I work for the state, and the Office of the Attorney General would be representing me if I were to be sued.