false accusations

Nurses General Nursing


Specializes in med/surg tele.

I have had a personal experience that has my life in a whirlwind right now. This is the story.

I am a charge nurse on a med/surg tele floor. I was sitting at the desk when the phone rang and it was security.

The security guard asked me if I seen two gentlemen get off the elevator with one wearing a baseball cap. I told him yes they just past the desk and went into a patient's room.

The security officer started to tell me why he was asking, when the gentleman with the baseball cap came up and stood in front of me.

After about a minute, I told the security guard to hold on. I asked the gentleman what I can do for him. He proceeded to tell me he is a family member of the patient in room xxxx. He wanted to know why his family member didn't have an IV in when one should of been put in this morning. The first thing I did was say OK and then asked him where his visitor's badge is. He pulled it out of his pant's pocket. He said it is right here. I told him he had to keep it where we can see it for the safety of our patients. He said well, what if I put it right here. I told him that is fine now, but you will have to go to security to get a new one. I said this because the gentleman said it doesn't stick any more.

He then asked me my name, which I gave my first name only. He then asked me why I was being so cort with him. I told him I wasn't. He then proceeded to take his phone out to take a picture of my badge. I told him he was not permitted to do that because it is against the law. He said no it isn't.

At that time the security guard said I am on my way and hung up. I told the gentleman yes it is, He said OK and I will be in the patient's room waiting for your answer.

I looked up the information in the chart and found out there was an IV placed around 1628. By the time I looked up this information and got up from my desk, the security guards and nursing supervisor was coming around the corner along with the family coming out of the patient's room.

One family member stopped right in the doorway and I said excuse me. I went into the room to verify the patient still had the IV in. As I walked in I said to the patient (who has dementia), hi sweetheart I am here to check where your IV is. I turned on the light, pulled the covers down. I noticed it wasn't in the left arm, and when I turned the right arm to look, the patient said ow.

The one family member that was in the doorway says, you don't have to be so rough. I turned and looked and asked the nursing supervisor, who was in the room at this time, if that was rough.

The nursing supervisor said let's take this outside. The family and the nursing supervisor went into the hallway and they unleashed on him about me. I went to the desk to finish my work because I also had a patient and was a resource for the other side of the floor.

The family said I should be fired. I only had this one intervention with the patient. The family went to administration about this and I have been suspended for a week now. I am waiting for their decision on the outcome of the investigation.

Since this has happened, I have not been able to eat, my home life is a mess, and I have lost 10 pounds. I have put applications into other hospitals. I really love being a charge nurse and working at this hospital, but I am afraid of where this might go.

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.

I don't think it's illegal for someone to take a picture of your badge.

Did the patient have an IV? 

It sounds like you made the decision to argue with the patient's family instead of keeping a cool head. It's good that the sup was there and witnessed it all.

What exactly was the false accusation?

Specializes in med/surg tele.

It states on all of our entrance doors no photography of any kind is prohibited. The patient did have an IV. I was not arguing with the family. I was being accused of something I did not do. The false accusation is I was being abusive to their family member. I just rotated the forearm with no force due to the IV being on the inner forearm.

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

In all kindness, you found yourself in a power struggle with a family member, which can quickly lead to a conflict if you are triggered. I can relate, as I have been in similar situations before and am guilty of being defensive. However, I learned on my own how to improve my emotional intelligence and de-escalate the situation.

Some of this is knowing simple conflict resolution skills, and I believe that charge nurses are not given enough training for handling such situations. Best wishes.

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.

So it's against hospital policy. That's different from being illegal. Agree with Beth - I chose my words poorly. You made the choice to engage in a power struggle. That never ends well. 

Specializes in School Nursing.

I am curious why security was calling about the men. Clearly they had already ruffled feathers prior to reaching the floor. 

Specializes in med/surg tele.

It ended up not being the men security was looking for.

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

Back in '98, I was suspended with pay for walking out of a meeting with a supervisor and administrator. I used my time off to write down everything which happened and got advice from a lawyer/friend. When I returned for a meeting with the second in command of the facility, I had all my ducks in a row, avoided any punitive action, and got a transfer to another department as I requested.

Putting events down in the WRITTEN word is a great catharsis and seeking advice from knowing individuals- those who have a good handle on P&P's and have experienced similar circumstances- is a method of preparing and can be a comforting enterprise.

Good luck to you, stacydye.



Agree with those above me about a power struggle. I do think this was kind of a circumstantial set-up where a lot of people would've had their guard up just a little, being that coincidentally security was just calling about [what one would assume to be] some sort of problem when the individual in your story approached the desk.

On first glance it seems petty/somewhat immature to start discussing a visitor badge when someone is inquiring about their loved one's care---but again, the backdrop of that interaction was a little different than usual. I do hope that in different circumstances you would not have initially responded that way. With enough years working as a nurse for large corporations you learn not to be their enforcers and to instead just be a professional nurse and let them enforce their own policies (which are NOT laws and sometimes don't even have a single thing to do with the law) if they feel it is that important.

In the end, you did not abuse a patient and do not appear to be guilty of any crime here. At this point its basically up to whether your employer handles this justly or not, and do not and cannot control that. I would urge you not to waste precious life worrying about what you cannot control. Since you have not hurt anyone or committed any crime, one way or another this is going to be okay and life is going to go on. If you have to separate from an employer that entertains clearly false allegations, that is not a bad thing.


Specializes in School Nursing.
stacydye222 said:

It ended up not being the men security was looking for.

So perhaps you prejudged them, and maybe weren't being as friendly as you could have been? 

Specializes in ER.

It sounds like you were less than tactful with, and a bit triggered by a demanding family. It also sounds like management is overreacting. 

The family went Karen on you, and quickly complained. I've had my Karen moments when I've been stressed, or treated rudely.  It does sound like you could've been more courteous. 

That situation sure escalated quickly. I'm sorry this got so out of hand so quickly and hopefully it's a storm in a tea cup that will just quietly go away but it's probably a good idea to review the situation as a personal opportunity for improvement. 

I'm going to assume that whatever Security started to tell you about a "family member in a hat" lead to you being suspicious of this family member which lead to you unintentionally escalating this situation instead of working to deescalate like I would expect of a charge nurse.

- Security is looking for someone in a hat. Hardly a unique identifier, let them come look for them. Nurses have enough to do without being security.

- Family isn't wearing their Visitor ID. Remind them of the policy that they need to wear one. Badge isn't sticky, offer them some tape to adhere it so they can avoid leaving their family to get a new one.

- Pt says "ow' when you gently turn their arm. "I'm so sorry. Are you OK?" Insisting that you weren't rough isn't exactly tactful especially given it's clear the family are already worked up.

For what it's worth the is zero reason here to think you would be fired or really even disciplined, that was an over reaction by the family. Give it some thought. Commit to doing better next time and then remind yourself you are only human and let it go.

None of us are perfect all the time except maybe from the comfort our own home, reviewing other people's situations and giving our very best version of what we would do on our best day. 

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