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Is our unit being punished for the actions of one nurse?

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Boottuff Boottuff (New) New Nurse

Has 35 years experience.

I work in an outpt area; it's busy, 40+hours/week plus we take call on weekends for minor procedures. The weekend call is for scheduled outpts only. We do the procedure and we go home.

In this case, we had a wound care scheduled on a Saturday. The nurse on call is a particularly lazy nurse and does the minimum to get by. She came in to do the wound care and before she left, the PACU called and wanted her to stay a few extra hours to put a wound vac on a pt in PACU when the pt came out of the OR. All of the PACU nurses are trained to put on wound vacs; this PACU nurse just didn't want to do it.

Our nurse said no; she wasn't staying late, she wasn't on call for PACU and the PACU nurse was perfectly capable of doing it herself and the wound care nurse actually had the right to do that. However, most of us would've probably stayed, done the vac and then go home. The PACU nurse got mad, called the nursing supervisor who then called the head of the OR who then tried to call our nurse to do the wound vac. Our nurse stupidly refused to answer the phone and threw the head of OR into a frenzy. So instead of having the PACU nurse do her own wound vac, the backup to the wound care nurse was called in from home to do the vac.

Needless to say, it has caused quite an uproar at my job. The head of the OR is also over the outpt nurses so she has decided that because of the actions of one nurse, all will be punished. She has moved the wound care area to an abandoned part of the PACU and on the weekends, we will come in, do the wound care pts and then cover for the PACU for as long as they want us up until our call is over @ 8pm. Our call is 14 hours on the weekend so now we are not only working our 40hours during the week, we potentially have to work an additional 14 hours on the weekend for a unit we weren't hired for. We've already had 3 nurses walk out over this which is creating an additional burden for the ones who are trying to stay because we need our jobs.

I guess there's really no question in this; I'm just frustrated by the fact I do my job and have done it responsibly but now being punished for the action of another staff member. On Saturdays, I won't even see my family until almost 9pm if I'm forced by PACU to stay the entire call shift. The only saving graces in this is that it's just 2 days every 6 weeks and I've been there so long that OT will cost them $80/hour. But, I still rather be home.

You obviously have never spent any time in the military, otherwise you would be very well acquainted with the concept of group punishment. Typically very effective in dealing with any kind of problem behavior. Increases group pressure to shape up or ship out. I'll bet the offending party is skulking around avoiding her coworkers. If this punishment is not somehow walked back, I would still make a very serious attempt to find new employment. The three nurses who left had the right idea. Too bad management didn't see the efficiency in letting go the offending nurse. Bet that never occurred to them and never will.

LOL. I predict this lasts only until the first day anyone in PACU appears to not have enough to do (aka be run as ragged as is ordinarily expected). Unless there is regularly enough work to keep an additional staff member busy for the time period in question, this is going to waste money. And if there is usually enough work to keep an additional staff member busy they should have had someone there all along.

Edited by JKL33

14 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

You obviously have never spent any time in the military, otherwise you would be very well acquainted with the concept of group punishment. Typically very effective in dealing with any kind of problem behavior. Increases group pressure to shape up or ship out. I'll bet the offending party is skulking around avoiding her coworkers. If this punishment is not somehow walked back, I would still make a very serious attempt to find new employment. The three nurses who left had the right idea. Too bad management didn't see the efficiency in letting go the offending nurse. Bet that never occurred to them and never will.

In my opinion, the nurse who should have been let go is the lazy PACU nurse who "didn't want to" apply the wound vac. You know, the one trained to do it. I think the "lazy nurse" had every right to refuse to stick around a couple hours until the patient got out of surgery to do a job that wasn't her responsibility. It sounds like she wasn't on call for the PACU, so why should she wait around to do sometime else's job. I would definitely think about quitting too if I were being punished with a 14 hour call shift.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

28 minutes ago, Elaine M said:

In my opinion, the nurse who should have been let go is the lazy PACU nurse who "didn't want to" apply the wound vac. You know, the one trained to do it. I think the "lazy nurse" had every right to refuse to stick around a couple hours until the patient got out of surgery to do a job that wasn't her responsibility. It sounds like she wasn't on call for the PACU, so why should she wait around to do sometime else's job. I would definitely think about quitting too if I were being punished with a 14 hour call shift.

Yes, I was wondering what was happening in PACU that the PACU nurse couldn't put in her own wound vac. Sounds like two lazy people trying to turf work and everyone else got dragged into it.

I suggest the OP try to tough it out for a few weeks. It'll get too expensive for someone not to finally kibosh the whole group punishment routine. If it lasts longer than that and gets to be too onerous then it'll be time to look for the exits. Meanwhile, make plans for what your family can do with the extra money.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

I think some PACU nurses think they are semi-retired.

I would think your employment contract spells out if they can assign duties outside the scope of what you were hired for.

request a copy from Human Resources and have a lawyer look it over. Shouldn’t cost much if anything for the initial consult.

also, moving you guys to an isolated area in poor conditions as you are construing it is a punishment and not something done for patient safety. That’s workplace harassment and hostile work environment. Perhaps you have grounds for an entertaining group lawsuit. But I’m no lawyer. I’m shocked to see such tactics outside the military where I was subjected to such foolery.

Edited by anewmanx

CritterLover, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU, Infusion, peds, informatics. Has 22 years experience.

12 hours ago, Emergent said:

I think some PACU nurses think they are semi-retired.

I really like PACU, it isn't something I've done a lot of but have picked up shifts here and there over the course of my career.

I was talking about possibly transferring there full time once, and an ICU nurse I knew outside of work asked me why I would want to do that to myself and told me that PACU is where ICU nurses go to die. :cheeky:

CritterLover, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU, Infusion, peds, informatics. Has 22 years experience.

Out of curiosity, did anyone get a reason from the PACU nurse as to why she wasn't doing it?

When I was a house supervisor I took a lot of weekend call for PACU where I worked in order to maintain my hands-on skills, and it can get busy; those nurses can be stretched pretty thin. Often they're doing pre op as well as PACU, assisting with blocks and the like, and transportation isn't always available either. If that was the case and I was the OR director I'd be pretty irritated too. However, if it was just an unwillingness to put the wound vac on, that is totally different. In that case if I was the OR director I'd be upset that the PACU nurse wanted me to pay someone on call pay + overtime to sit there for two hours and then apply a wound vac.

Regardless of the reason for the PACU nurse's refusal, the response from the OR director/hospital management is insane. I'd be job hunting.

6 hours ago, CritterLover said:

I really like PACU, it isn't something I've done a lot of but have picked up shifts here and there over the course of my career.

I was talking about possibly transferring there full time once, and an ICU nurse I knew outside of work asked me why I would want to do that to myself and told me that PACU is where ICU nurses go to die. :cheeky:

What a stupid remark from the ICU nurse.

Just as stupid as the boss' action in the OP's post.

I guess if it's only 2 days q 6 weeks, it won't be too bad, but I don't understand why the Recovery nurse couldn't do the procedure in the first place and wanted the on call nurse to do it???

Maybe the media need to hear about this idiocy - anonymously, of course.

Just now, Kooky Korky said:

What a stupid remark from the ICU nurse. I say To each his own.

Just as stupid as the boss' action in the OP's post.

I guess if it's only 2 days q 6 weeks, it won't be too bad, but I don't understand why the Recovery nurse couldn't do the procedure in the first place and wanted the on call nurse to do it???

Maybe the media need to hear about this idiocy - anonymously, of course.

On 3/8/2020 at 1:20 PM, caliotter3 said:

You obviously have never spent any time in the military, otherwise you would be very well acquainted with the concept of group punishment. Typically very effective in dealing with any kind of problem behavior. Increases group pressure to shape up or ship out. I'll bet the offending party is skulking around avoiding her coworkers. If this punishment is not somehow walked back, I would still make a very serious attempt to find new employment. The three nurses who left had the right idea. Too bad management didn't see the efficiency in letting go the offending nurse. Bet that never occurred to them and never will.

The offending nurse was the PACU nurse,

7 hours ago, Kooky Korky said:

Maybe the media need to hear about this idiocy - anonymously, of course.

You actually think John Q Public would give a rat's behind about turf wars between nursing units? LOL.

kp2016

Has 20 years experience.

They are forcing you to be at work all day saturday on overtime just to punish you and prove a point....weird. Everywhere I have ever worked if we choose to hang around for hours while on call, waiting to do a task that the PACU nurse who was on regular time was trained and available to do there would be hell to pay.

They must have money to burn. I predict this won't last long.

Edited by kp2016

3 hours ago, kp2016 said:

They must have money to burn. I predict this won't last long.

Exactly.

And I would add - be sure to not be heard complaining about it. Fools make foolish decisions and when challenged they get angry and defend themselves by doubling-down. For this reason the worst thing you all can do is complain about this. (Better to start fighting over who gets to sign up for this lucrative weekend-OT pay. 😂🤨 Kidding. Sort of.)

Katie82, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, PH, CM. Has 39 years experience.

What you are referring to as Group Punishment will probably be referred to by the Agency as a needed Policy Change. I fault the PACU nurse in this instance unless she was recovering more than one patient. But the real blame foes to your agency for not covering this in P&P. I guess for $80/hr 2 days every six weeks, I would bite the bullet, and I'd bet the full shift doesn't come up very often. In a job where you have to pick your battles, not sure this would be worth quitting over.