Coworker RN refused to help in emergency, claims she doesn't want to be “micromanaged"

Nurses Professionalism


I am having issues with one of my coworker RN. I like her, but she reacts to certain things in a strange way sometimes. Recently, she became upset with me, accused me of "micromanaging" her, and requested that the manager meets with both of us. Here are some of the situations.

1) We work in a psych unit. A young patient punched an older patient in the face. The older patient, who was my patient, fell backwards and hit his head on a concrete floor. We assisted him, and I ran to another end of the unit to get the doctor's phone number. As I was walking, I saw this RN walking towards the patient. I politely asked her "M..., can you please get a set of vitals? I am calling the doctor". She had a weird reaction to my words. She said with arrogance in her voice "In this situation, I am going to follow the charge nurse's instructions". I was shocked, but went on and asked another person get the vitals while I was obtaining the MD phone number. Afterwards, I said to that RN "When a patient falls and hits their head, you don't need directions from the charge to get vitals. It is basic fall protocol". She looked frustrated but didn't know what to say. I really don't understand what her problem is! That was totally not the behavior of a nurse. 
2) One day, we started the day being short staffed. Every RN took more patients than the normal ratio. Midday, one RN felt sick and needed to go home. Her patient load got divided between us. So, we were super short. The charge nurse said they didn't find anyone to replace her. In about 15 minutes, I see that nurse strolling in. Apparently, she agreed to come in extra. I thought she was going to replace the sick nurse, but no. Instead, they had her take a new admit. I was unpleasantly surprised, but didn't say anything. She came for 4 hours, and the admit takes about 1.5 hours. So, she had plenty of time left. I was running non-stop all day. As I walked in the clean utility, I see that nurse pouring shampoo into measuring cups and then emptying the trash can. I was super surprised as these are thins that an RN would do only if she had plenty of free time. I could use help with a couple of little things and, I am sure, other nurses were too. I asked her "M..., do you have free time?” She appeared startled and said "I need to check with the charge nurse". I asked her "Did the charge nurse not tell you to check with the team if anyone needed help?” She said arrogantly "I expect that by now you know how to do your job". It felt like a slap in the face. Yes, I know how to do my job. I also know that if I came to work extra, was making double pay, and had no patient load, I would sure as heck check with my teammates if anyone needed help. I replied to her "I thought your duties were of an RN, not of a housekeeper". I know I reacted emotionally. She got mad at me, said that I was rude to her, said "I will not allow to be micromanaged", and wrote an email to the manager. She also sent an email to me asking me not to approach her unless it is about patient care of unit safety. I replied that it was totally find and that I never approached her with any unprofessional or personal requests. 
A little background. I am an RN with 17 years of work in various hospital settings. She is older than me, became an RN about 5 years ago, and worked in a nursing home. That might help to explain her not knowing the fall protocol. However, her responses to me are just weird and unprofessional. 
She used the word "micromanaged" a few times. Never, not in any circumstances I directed to her to do anything. It was always a polite request or inquiry. This is a part of normal daily teamwork. I just don't know how to work with her. Now, she wants to meet with a manager. What is there to say? Maybe it sounded rude that I said about housekeeper. I can apologize for that. In all other situations, I believe I was acting appropriately and in the best interest of the patients. 
Does anyone have any insight or advice? 


6,760 Posts

A few thoughts, keep in mind we do not know you or her. 🙂

First, meeting seems like a good idea. I would 100% prefer that over a situation where someone complains to the manager then the manager reports their accusations to the other party and demands a response/defense. I would much rather attend a meeting where I can show up and be calm, level-headed and professional and have the real-time opportunity to calmly but directly stay focused on the facts and if the other person is making accusations that aren't true there's the immediate opportunity to calmly say, "you know that isn't what happened" or "you know the spirit of my request was not to micromanage you" or whatever. If a person can stay calm and not dig a deeper hole by being defensive and talking too much then it's an excellent opportunity to just sit in the meeting and show that you are not the problem.

With that there any chance that you are somewhat excitable; in other words can you become just a bit mildly frazzled/agitated when things are going on? I ask because I wonder about that vibe in reading between the lines of your post. Again, I do not know you. But honestly, hustling to get a doctor's number prior to getting V/S on my patient that just got attacked is not what I would do as an RN. I would finish assessing my patient and make sure they're safe/settled/stable. If it isn't a 911 situation then we can all stay calm and calling the doctor isn't an emergency for which others need to drop what they're doing. If it is a 911 situation then we still stay calm but call 911/call a code/use the facility's emergency procedures. We know which is which by assessing our patient. Even securing the other patient who just attacked someone is higher priority than getting a doctor's number.

Same concern with your second example. Never get agitated with your peers because of bad management decisions. That second example is 99% crappy management and you became agitated because a peer did not fix management's mess.

It's also very possible that she does not know what all to do in her new setting and feels somewhat intimidated because you generally do know what to do. If that's the case you can't fix it and those people are VERY hard to work with when they attack others rather than try to learn and improve. Do whatever you can to not get sucked into a "thing" with her. You have to keep your own emotions under tight control. Go about your work. Do not let it become where your day is about what kinds of little feuds she is going to throw up. Just move on as if she isn't there.  Anyone who comes in with a bad attitude and isn't good at doing the work is going to dig their own hole all by themselves. Just stay out of the way.


Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health.

Having worked in a nursing home or having "only" 5 years experience as an RN are not excuses. Don't make excuses for her. Any trained nurse should know what to do when a patient falls and hits their head on a concrete floor having been punched.

Refusing to help a colleague with RN duties when you're short staffed preferring to fill cups with shampoo instead is just plain disrespectful, to her colleagues and the patients.

Your manager needs to nip this in the bud now. Report everything you know. Forget that you quite like her - you don't go to work to make friends. She sounds unprofessional, possibly dangerous. You are right to highlight your concerns.

The unkind side of me is tempted to say that maybe SHE needs admitting to your unit.

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