I'm *really* worried about my job... Need advice (long)

  1. I've worked at my facility for 7 years. Prior to the last month or so, I have only ever been written up once, and it was from way back when I first started. I was supposed to work a night shift but didn't realize it. As it turns out, the copy of the schedule I had was only the "preliminary." Bad mistake, but forgivable, and never repeated. After that, I was rarely ever called into any manager's office for something I had done, or possibly done wrong. I was never again written up, and I have always been highly praised on my performance evaluations.

    Fast forward to now...

    About a month ago, I was written up for "gossiping" about a former co-worker. I believed that she was a terrible nurse and I honestly feared for the patients she "cared" for during the day. I had voiced my concerns to others (leads, etc), but they were not taken seriously. I had to fill out incident reports on this nurse on several occasions for med errors--serious med errors. In any case, said nurse quit our hospital and moved. I said some very derogatory comments about her. I was called into the manager's office and written up for speaking poorly about her.

    When called into my manager's office, I completely agreed that what I had said about this nurse was unprofessional and inappropriate... however true the comments were, they weren't appropriate for work, and it made me look like a tool for saying them. I got my first written warning for this incident. I agreed with my manager that the comments were horrid and unbecoming of a professional. I have been very careful with everything since then, as I have a tendency to blurt things out. I certainly have not been "gossiping" since this incident. I told my manager that something like this would never happen again, and it hasn't. It was a very poor decision on my behalf to speak of someone in this fashion.

    Today I was called into the manager's office. I knew it was bad when the director (my boss's boss) was in the room. They questioned me about a patient (not mine), that I helped admit last week. To put it nicely, the patient was withdrawing, and it required elephant amounts of meds to keep him sedated. There were several comments made in the room by all staff involved that could be perceived as inappropriate. I actually left the room at one point because I became so frustrated with the situation, and I didn't want to do or say something myself that could be deemed inappropriate.

    Apparently, someone said that I called the patient a derogatory name in his room (in passing) to other staff. I absolutely did not do this, and I am appalled that someone claimed I did. Unfortunately, I do know who made a comment in the room (a friend of mine). They railed me and essentially gave me the option of telling them who said the comment, or taking the blame myself. I told my manager truth, but I feel terrible for doing so. They believed me and I did not get written up for it. I did not know it at the time, but the "warning" I would have gotten was a 1-week suspension, without pay .

    Not only am I scared that I am on the fast track to get fired, but I now feel terrible knowing that my friend, and co-worker may have the same happen to him. The management did believe me that I didn't make this comment--I'm sure the look of udder shock on my face helped! I explained to them that I had been in the room, and that I had been frustrated, but that I stepped out when it came to my breaking point. I did tell them that my friend made the comment, but I didn't know that he could possibly be suspened or fired for it! Now I feel like a worthless rat!

    I am fairly sure I know who reported me. This person is a tech and a neighbor of said patient, and I could tell that she was upset by the way things were going in the room that night. At one point I told her that the patient would probably not remember the whole event due to his DTs and the fact that he was given so much sedation. I feel that she was overly sensitive in the situation and not impartial with regards to his cares since she personally knew him. I still don't understand how I became a culprit.

    I don't know what to do now. I feel like I am walking on eggshells. I feel like a rat for telling on my friend. I am scared for my job and for his. I came home and cried this morning. I really like my job, and I like caring for my patients. I have never had a patient or family complain about the care I have given them, and I'm shocked that I have been singled out for something I didn't do. I'm at a loss for what to do... I think that once I have calmed down that I should request to meet with my manager one-on-one to ask her what I can do better in the future.

    There are some signs I perceive as positive in this situation 1) they believed me when I said that I did not make the derogatory comment; 2) I did not get written up or suspended today; 3) my manager asked me which over time days I can work this next month... obviously I still have some credibility. I have been honest and forthcoming with her before, and I feel that she believed me.

    Do you guys think I am on the fast track to get fired? I'm so scared. I'm scared that this will ruin my friendship with my co-worker. They assured me that he would not know that I "told" on him. I feel that I was put in a very bad situation. Was his comment inappropriate? Absolutely. Should the culprit be reprimanded for it? Yes. Fired? No, I don't think so. It's not my job to decide, but it's of concern since I was implicated in the whole mess.

    I'm so worried about losing my job, or losing a friendship. Does anyone have any suggestions about what to say when I speak to my manager? Should I speak to my manager? I feel like I'm trapped between a rock and a hard spot, and I could really use some advice.

    Of course, I am not allowed to speak to any of my co-workers about being called into the office this morning. I was told that my co-worker will not know it was me who "ratted" on him. I can't even talk to him about the situation, or I face suspension or worse if the management finds out.

    Any advice or constructive criticism is appreciated in this situation. Thanks to those of you who bothered to read this long thread.
  2. Visit WalkieTalkie profile page

    About WalkieTalkie

    Joined: Dec '08; Posts: 708; Likes: 897
    RN; from US
    Specialty: CVICU


  3. by   Chapis
    sorry it happened to you!
    do what you were told and say nothing about being called to the office and the conversation you had with them.
    if asked, say you haven't been called to the office just yet. if they saw you, just say you were asked what days you could work over time.
    i don't know what else to say, probably someone else will say something better and more helpful.
    good luck.
    about telling on your friend, i know it looks like you sniched on him, but you told the truth when asked. as hard as it is, it was going to be you in trouble for not coming forward. maybe someone else can say how to avoid these situations in the future. i just really do not know why would the tech blame you for it?
  4. by   WalkieTalkie
    Quote from chapis
    i just really do not know why would the tech blame you for it?
    that's what i don't understand either. previously we've had a good work relationship. i do remember her being very emotional this night. i honestly think that she may have perceived my comment of "he won't remember" to mean "i don't care" or "it doesn't matter." i distinctly remember her being very stand-offish during the whole admission process.

    at one point she told me that "you are getting him more worked up" because i was trying to get an accurate temp on the patient (part of our dt protocol includes getting an accurate temp to determine benzo titration). i essentially told her that it didn't matter what i said to him because he was withdrawing so badly that nothing made sense to him. she seemed pretty irritated at this comment and attempted to go into his room and talk to him about his dogs that she seems to know from the neighborhood... of course, the patient agreed he knew the dogs and then told another nurse to "**** off."

    i honestly think she may have been angry at me for not treating him like a rational patient... of course he clearly wasn't rational at the time. i think that her emotional attachment in this situation clouded her judgment.
    Last edit by WalkieTalkie on Nov 12, '09
  5. by   maxthecat
    I would have serious issues with a management team that forces one employee to rat on another or take the blame for something he didn't do. Also, what kind of "warning" is a suspension? Your system sounds quite punitive to me. For example, I don't think an honest mistake in reading a schedule should have warranted an automatic write-up, especially since you were new at the time.

    I don't know enough about your situation to know if you're at risk of being fired. Regardless, I wouldn't want to work for your managers.
  6. by   elppaym
    You may not be on the fast track to being fired...but you are now under scrutiny. It sounds like you are having doubts about continued employment, which is understanding.
    Remember being professional is the right thing to do in all situations, even if it's casual conversation on the floor.
    With all that being said, I would be doing less overtime there and trying to find a registry position just in case...besides it might be time to expand your experiences, just one way to look at it
  7. by   twinner2
    I agree with the previous posts. You are now going to be watched closely regarding things that you say. It is unfortunate that you were blamed for a comment that you did not make. It seems that you won't be fired, but management will definitely be looking out for any complaints regarding your professionalism.

    Just as a sidenote, I am curious as to why someone like a close neighbor would be allowed to care for this patient (the aide/tech) that you mentioned. In the future, to promote objectivity, perhaps personnel that have relationships with patients outside the hospital should not be allowed to provide direct care due to a conflict of interest.

    Let us know what happens.
  8. by   SusanKathleen, RN
    I agree with previous posts - good advice. But, my concern is that your boss mentioned that no one would know that you "told" on your friend, yet your boss told YOU who told on YOU.

    Best wishes to you. Hope you get through okay.
  9. by   RN1982
    Wow you got written up for gossiping? I wish my managers could get written up for that.
  10. by   Reno1978
    Maybe you weren't blamed. Maybe management heard a comment was made and is just questioning people to find out who did it. Sneakier things have happened. Try to look on the bright side and do speak with your manager later and let her know many of the same concerns you've expressed here. I think it would look good that you are showing interest in your job security when you're concerned about it.
  11. by   MrazFan
    Have you considered that maybe you weren't blamed at all, that your friend was blamed to begin with and your managers wanted confirmation? So they put you in the hot seat knowing that you wouldn't lie... it is a crappy thing to do, but is it possible? And if so, do you really want to work under people who would do that? I'd be looking around for other jobs if I were you... but that's just me!
  12. by   retiredlady
    Never, talk about other people, even if it is a little thing. It can come back and bite you. I learned the hard way also. I think you will be all right if you will follow the advice about not talking about any one. (I said something to my best friends at work and she turned around and told the head nurse--so don't trust anyone-they like to look good, and will hurt you sometimes in the process)
  13. by   canoehead
    No, I don't think there's any danger of you being fired. I don't think they thought you had said those things at all. Probably they were pulling each person working that night in to the office, asking them if THEY had said it, and waiting for someone to cave and tell them who it actually was. Having seen it before, and been in the situation before, they may have known unofficially, but needed confirmation.

    After you've been around awhile you may decide not to play that game and become the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil monkey. Try to stay totally OUT of the situation, claim to have not noticed, or it must have happened when you were out...etc, etc. You don't want to get involved in the tangled web, and you don't want them to see you as the person to go to when they need information.

    In my situation they knew it was someone on my shift...so I took the blame-and refused implicate three others. They found another reason to fire one of the others within 24hours. then let me work out my weekend and fired me afterwards. Don't trust management.
  14. by   morte
    juvenile, and innapropriate.....management that is......the aide should not have been withing hearing distance to begin with.....and if i could be sure that it was she.....well, she wouldnt be happy