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Fired for saying i might file safe harbor

Nurses   (7,297 Views | 61 Replies)

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3 minutes ago, MunoRN said:

It certainly would be nice if your interpretation was correct since that would essentially implement nurse to patient ratios since the staff nurses could be protected for only accepting a certain ratio, but that's not the case unfortunately.

The statute defines what "risk of harm" is.  And while the nurse can certainly declare Safe Harbor at any time the conditions are different before and after the assignment has been accepted.  The "duty to patients" is not broadly or liberally defined by the statute, prior to the assignment being accepted it must meet certain criteria to qualify as unsafe.

In Texas, filing for Safe Harbor is not a guarantee. It goes to peer review. If peer review determines that the assignment was not unsafe, the Safe Harbor protection wouldn't apply.

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MunoRN has 10 years experience as a RN and specializes in Critical Care.

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9 minutes ago, Horseshoe said:

In Texas, filing for Safe Harbor is not a guarantee. It goes to peer review. If peer review determines that the assignment was not unsafe, the Safe Harbor protection wouldn't apply.

The Peer Review process is to determine if the nurse qualified for Safe Harbor under the definitions of the statute.  

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MunoRN has 10 years experience as a RN and specializes in Critical Care.

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I'm certainly not opposed to your interpretation, which would define nurse-to-patient ratios and nursing workloads in general as being determined solely by direct care nurses and fellow nurses (the peer review board).  I think you bring up some decent points that could be argued the current statute in Texas, which is essentially copied and pasted by a number of other states, could potentially be interpreted to allow for that reading of the statute.  I say more power to you if you feel like pushing for that interpretation.

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debmomto4 is a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in Nursing Education.

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On 10/17/2019 at 10:48 PM, Wish4goodstaffing said:

I was being fired for saying i was thinking about filing safe harbor. She literally said this during my termination phone call. We had 2 cnas for the entire building and 3 nurses. My question is can I sue my former employer for wrongful termination???

The point I see is that you said you were thinking of filing one. If you need to file anything like this you do not threaten them with it. You file it quietly, privately.  They know it is unsafe but by you verbalizing it and not following through, they now know you might at any time. They now see you as a threat. I know our union says. You state at the beginning of the shift - this is an unsafe assignment and I am filing a grievance and then at the end, you file. I have had supervisors then send additional staff and actually once the ADON came down and did half the assignment. 

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Sour Lemon has 9 years experience.

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1 minute ago, debmomto4 said:

The point I see is that you said you were thinking of filing one. If you need to file anything like this you do not threaten them with it. You file it quietly, privately.  They know it is unsafe but by you verbalizing it and not following through, they now know you might at any time. They now see you as a threat. I know our union says. You state at the beginning of the shift - this is an unsafe assignment and I am filing a grievance and then at the end, you file. I have had supervisors then send additional staff and actually once the ADON came down and did half the assignment. 

I don't think it's something that can be done privately, is it? There's paperwork to be filled out, and it comes from the house officer.

It's typically done when accepting an assignment, too ...not after the shift has ended.

Are you in Texas? I haven't been there for a while, but telemetry used to "safe harbor" themselves all the time when I was. The hospital would "fix" it by floating untrained (in telemetry) med/surg nurses and leaving those units even shorter staffed.

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FacultyRN has 12 years experience.

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Filing Safe Harbor entitles you to TBON peer review processes, if your facility has at least 10 nurses.  However, Texas is a right to hire/right to fire at will state, so your employment status is another matter.  If you only mentioned Safe Harbor without actually filing the papers with your supervisor, you aren't even entitled to the peer review process. At best, I think you might be successful in filing unemployment. If you have ongoing concerns about patient safety in your facility, and it wasn't just a night of low staffing, you could report to appropriate regulatory bodies as well. Remember, reporting in bad faith/out of retaliation is considered bad character by the Board, so you'd only want to do so if you truly have safety concerns.

One more thing: I see several posts saying that Safe Harbor is for your licensing body. This is incorrect, and TBON specifically states not to send Safe Harbor paperwork to the Board. It is to be filed within your organization only. 

Edited by FacultyRN

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On 10/19/2019 at 6:33 PM, Horseshoe said:

In Texas, filing for Safe Harbor is not a guarantee. It goes to peer review. If peer review determines that the assignment was not unsafe, the Safe Harbor protection wouldn't apply.

How fast does this peer review take place?

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FacultyRN has 12 years experience.

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1 hour ago, Kooky Korky said:

How fast does this peer review take place?

Even if administrators address a nurse's Safe Harbor request immediately, the nurse doesn't have to revoke Safe Harbor.  He/she can still request the peer review, which occurs 21-45 days after the occurrence and follows due process guidelines. In the case of Safe Harbor, the peer review strictly determines whether or not the nurse filed Safe Harbor in good faith.  If it was filed in good faith, the nurse is protected against employer retaliation (in theory) and Board action.  Filing Safe Harbor does not eliminate a nurse's civil/criminal liability.  The nurse may want to move forward with a peer review even after his/her concern is resolved to bring issues to light, i.e. chronic understaffing of a unit that endangers patients in which a prudent nurse couldn't possibly adhere to the standards of practice.

This link does a great job of explaining the concept of Safe Harbor, and Texas nurses are fortunate to have this option.  Unfortunately, most do not understand its true purpose, and it's very under-used.

http://www.bon.texas.gov/faq_peer_review.asp

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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My question would be what you are hoping to achieve. Generally, the most you will get is your job back. In this scenario, why would you want it?

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ocean.baby has 25 years experience and specializes in corrections and LTC.

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How many patients were the 3 nurses and 2 CNAs caring for?  Not that this has any bearing on safe harbor, it is just my curiosity. 

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

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If you're in an "at will" state,  the employer can pretty much fire you for anything. If you are in an oversaturated market, your employer will fire you for almost anything. Remember these things before commenting. Not being mean, being honest. If they know that they can replace you in an hour, they will 😞

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5 minutes ago, Hoosier_RN said:

If you're in an "at will" state,  the employer can pretty much fire you for anything. If you are in an oversaturated market, your employer will fire you for almost anything. Remember these things before commenting. Not being mean, being honest. If they know that they can replace you in an hour, they will 😞

Even in an at-will state, employers can’t actually fire you for absolutely anything. They can’t fire you for invoking safe harbor. However, the OP didn’t actually file. 

This is where an employment law attorney would be able to help you decide if you have a case and whether or not it would be worth it to pursue.

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