Jump to content

Legal obligation for disaster relief

Nurses   (3,457 Views 59 Comments)
by kardz30 kardz30 (New Member) New Member

660 Profile Views; 14 Posts

I belong to a level 2 trauma center in florida. I've had my arm twisted into a "disaster relief team". I've been told that I will remain in the hospital for 1-2 days, possibly more. That I am not allowed to go home or leave. That I must stay within the confines of the hospital.

When asked, I asked for the policy per employment or the statute/law, or any literature at all that obligates me to stay in the hospital and force me to perform as a nurse or just stay within the confines of the hospital. No one could cite any resource or source.

I am wondering if anyone knows of what law, statute, or area in the nurse practice act that cites the scope and exact legal obligations there are for hospitals to dictate this? As far as i'm aware there are none, but I know many other nurses have faced this being Florida and that they have families and homes to tend to during storms/hurricanes while not on their scheduled shift.

Please, do not go off topic with "moral obligations" and this and that. I am ONLY looking for a law or literature that says nurses are legally obligated to perform during a disaster in the state of florida.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ORBSN is a ADN, BSN, CNA, RN and specializes in CNOR.

4 Posts; 237 Profile Views

I live on the gulf in south AL and have had the experience of being on call (surgery) during a major hurricane. Only hospital policy and procedure directives mandate coverage in disasters.  No law mandates health care employees and coverage for disasters.  That being said if your scheduled to work and you are expecting to keep your job you need to go to work.  You may not be relieved promptly or at all. (relief doesn’t show up). At that point legally you can not abandon your patients and are stuck until you are properly relieved.  I am also licensed in FL and the situation is the same.  My friend got fired for calling off during a hurricane. The facility’s policy for coverage and if you want the same job after the Storm is over are the considerations to base your decision on.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jedrnurse has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in school nurse.

1,253 Posts; 11,800 Profile Views

This is an employer mandate, not a state one. That being said, if the hospital mandates you and you refuse, you can be fired. (Especially in Florida where worker rights are non-existent.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

6,235 Posts; 64,610 Profile Views

Generally, states have laws related to mandatory work obligations for certain healthcare workers, as a condition of a nursing license you typically are obligated to work if considered health-safety-critical-staff, this is often specified by the State of Emergency declaration or by standing laws related to declared emergencies.  

It's pretty rare, but if you fail to show up or are absent for mandated duty without permission, in many states the decision can be made to have you brought in by law enforcement, and you may potentially face criminal charges.  I've only ever know personally of one occasion where staff was picked up at home and brought in by law enforcement, it was a Physician.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ORBSN is a ADN, BSN, CNA, RN and specializes in CNOR.

4 Posts; 237 Profile Views

I thought the topic was referring to non government staff ( hospital staff)   The rare situation of arrest with criminal charges is not just rare, I seriously doubt any of that situation.  Critical personal are employees of State and a whole different situation.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

amoLucia specializes in LTC.

5,128 Posts; 45,714 Profile Views

Every place I've ever worked had a 'Disaster Plan' in place. I believe that it is mandated by ??? We've always had to produce our 'Fire Drills' records with State surveys. Might it be part of the federal 'Life Safety' code?

Not sure of that Life Safety name but it's something like that.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NRSKarenRN has 40 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

5 Followers; 10 Articles; 14,558 Posts; 160,533 Profile Views

ANA Issue Brief: Who Will Be There? Ethics, the Law, and a Nurse's Duty to Respond in a Disaster

Quote

Unresolved issues of legal, ethical, and professional considerations of disaster medical response remain a challenge and could hamper the ability of nurses to respond. A concerted effort to solving these problems is needed, with nurses and stakeholders at the national, state, and local levels.

Emergency Preparedness Rule - Centers for Medicare ... - cms.gov  

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan | Florida Disaster

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you a credible source? Add your Credentials, Experience, etc.

14 Posts; 660 Profile Views

Cool beans, only a few people actually said something specific instead of speaking to generalities and without going off topic. ORBSN, Jedrnurse, thanks for the answers.

Muno, I don't know what condition of my nursing license obligates me to work more than 12 hours. The simple reality is I don't work on generalities because a few states have laws on the books. I'm also not a robot, I want to know the specifics and scope of those laws. I don't listen to government or employers, really any entity at all blindly. I've got my own personal endeavors to be concerned for, and will be concerned for them...but I can't be expected to stay in a hospital for any excessive amount of time beyond what law requires (14? 16? hours).

No one is citing anything per law or policy. In fact the issue isn't my schedule changing or anything, it's really just being "forced" to stay within a hospital for far more than a shift and some extenuating circumstances in mind, pay or otherwise. At which point labor laws become an issue. 

As in anything, it doesn't matter who you are...you can't just demand things arbitrarily and expect people to follow it outside of whats reasonable. Keeping employees confined for 3-4 days is unreasonable. At least it is without laws or policy either from a healthcare agency or a statute. The only thing i'm asking is for the literature that backs it up.

There are people that think i'm somehow obligated by virtue or because a few states will arrest you, or because i'm a nurse and that's what nurses "do". I don't play the virtue or generalization game. Literature, literature, literature. If there's rules show me the rules, otherwise don't force me down a path. I'm not cattle. In this field, you have to know the law or be willing to question what the law/policy is or you'll potentially lose your license at some point or get taken advantage of. Being a nurse might be a noble thing, but the industry most certainly is not.

Karen, ethics are just propaganda without a law to back them up. It's all virtue signaling of what "ought" to be.

Edited by kardz30
complete response

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

1 Follower; 708 Posts; 7,328 Profile Views

I'm not aware of a specific state law, unless a facility wanted to go the "patient abandonment" route that is often threatened.

That being said, in Houston each facility has two different emergency preparedness teams that you must sign up for or be assigned to each year. The first is the "ride out" team who are the ones that come in to "ride out" the hurricane/weather when the emergency preparedness team is activated, and then once it has been deemed safe enough for employees to start coming back then the second team, called the "relief team," come relieve the ride out employees.

If you are a member of the ride out team, you are expected to be at the hospital when it is activated. You spend 24 hours at the hospital, you are paid for 24 hours a day for being there, but only work 12 hour shifts. You are given basic accomodations at the hospital as well as food. If you are a member of the relief team, you are expected to return as soon as the hospital is given the all clear. 

For Hurricane Harvey, the ride out teams were stuck in the hospital for 3-5 days because of how bad and dangerous the conditions were. I was on the relief team at the team and got the call to come back "when you are safely able to do so," but due to flooding in my neighborhood I wasn't able to return for another 24 hours.

As others have said this is more of a facility policy than a state law, to my understanding. Either way every hospital I have worked at has made it very clear what the expectations were depending on what team you were on. If you choose not to follow the policy, I would definitely expect to be terminated. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you a credible source? Add your Credentials, Experience, etc.

1 Post; 11 Profile Views

After your shift is over you can stay only a certain amount of hours to work and practice safely. After that, it’s considered unsafe for you to practice and you are a potential danger. Every state has laws about patient abandonment, which trump facility policy. A facility cannot override state law. I know the rule for my state and I had exercised  my rights, but it was not during emergency. Still, just because it’s emergency it will make no sense to add insult to injury and put a nurse on the floor who hasn’t slept in 24h. I suggest you look up “patient abandonment” for your state and figure it out. Don’t forget that while your employer will be ecstatic if you work 24 h straight, they’d not hesitate to fire you and not back you up if you kill someone, because you couldn’t see straight. Watch for yourself 1st! 

Edited by Annabelle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FolksBtrippin is a BSN, RN and specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

2 Followers; 1,620 Posts; 14,200 Profile Views

20 hours ago, MunoRN said:

Generally, states have laws related to mandatory work obligations for certain healthcare workers, as a condition of a nursing license you typically are obligated to work if considered health-safety-critical-staff, this is often specified by the State of Emergency declaration or by standing laws related to declared emergencies.  

It's pretty rare, but if you fail to show up or are absent for mandated duty without permission, in many states the decision can be made to have you brought in by law enforcement, and you may potentially face criminal charges.  I've only ever know personally of one occasion where staff was picked up at home and brought in by law enforcement, it was a Physician.

You are escorted by law enforcement to ensure your safety in getting to the hospital, not as a slave laborer. 

In other words, you can still refuse to go in. 

Edited by FolksBtrippin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

6,235 Posts; 64,610 Profile Views

10 minutes ago, FolksBtrippin said:

You are escorted by law enforcement to ensure your safety in getting to the hospital, not as a slave laborer. 

In other words, you can still refuse to go in. 

According my state's BON guidance, you may need LEO assistance to get to the hospital, but in order to refuse to go you need to rescind your license at that point.  It's not slave labor as your employer is still required to pay you.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×