New ex patient

Specialties Psychiatric


Just trying to get a feel about this. I work in ATS detox and now mostly an adult psychiatric unit. I just saw a patient I used to admit multiple times on detox start a job on my psych floor. This feels very uncomfortable for me, as I know this person's intimate details and now? He's one of the team.

Has anyone ever had to work with their old patients?

I've seen this persons...well... everything. Am I just supposed to block all that out? He looks nervous whenever he sees me, like I might recognize him. I haven't yet talked to him except for a wave hello and I can see him slink away. Is this common? Any thoughts?

That would be a little odd. Was he a patient at that facility, or did you meet him elsewhere?

I think I would stick to friendly nods and waves. Polite conversation about the weather would also be acceptable if the coworker happened to initiate it. I would never go beyond that because I'd have a "bad memory".

He probably wouldn't believe any reassurances you would try to give him, so just stick to the pleasantries, as previously suggested.

He literally was a patient at this facility but we are supposed to pretend we don't know that... management is handling this all in a very odd way. Yeah... I was thinking minimal but professional interaction. He even works on a unit he used to be a patient on and has come in contact with previous patients he used to be a peer of. I find this incredibly disturbing as contraband is already a large problem and he's friends with detox patients and could easily smuggle things if he wanted to. Not saying he would, but...Just doesn't seem like healthy boundaries at all.

A couple of question come to mind- is he a professional in a monitoring program?

Also, how long has it been since he was a patient there? A few months or 10 years?

We had the same thing happen where I work but she openly told everyone at her job interview. I guess that made it a little less awkward but we had all seen her medical/mental health history in her chart. It was way more than I wanted to know about someone I work with. My co-worker and I thought it was bad idea from the start to hire her.but no one listened to us. About 2 months in she went to EAP and was out for 4 weeks on sick leave. She went again on sick leave again after about 4 month of employment. She told us she was so depressed she couldn't even get out of bed. She only lasted about 7 months and then just quit. I don't think my boss will hire an ex-patient again.

He was a patient there last early last year and multiple times I admitted him on the detox unit in 2016. So not very long ago. He is a mental health counselor and not under any monitoring I know of.

Several female staff (nurses and MHCs) have already told me in confidence he makes them uncomfortable and has poor boundaries. He'll purposefully place himself in extremely close proximity and ask things such as, "does this make you uncomfortable?" It's all very ridiculous. Unit manager (he'll be fired or leave within a few months) responded to one complaint by promoting an unsafe sexist/blame game culture by telling that staff, "you have to tell him, men don't get it". My work place is dysfunctional at best. I'm also the only one willing to go to HR but I haven't witnessed my coworkers experiences but trust them completely.

Specializes in Critical care.

Hold on a sec ... I must be under a misunderstanding .... I thought most psych nurses were ex-patients, the old "takes one to know one" thing? All this time that's not true?

If you are the only one willing to go to HR make sure that you only go with what you have experienced or seen otherwise you are going to left out to hang

Specializes in Addictions, psych, corrections, transfers.

Only a year ago? Does your facility have a protocol for how long a patient has to be sober and not a patient before they can work there? Our protocol is a pt has to be sober and have not been a patient for 3 years before they can work here. I've had a previous client work with me but she was 3 years sober and a great open person. She was going to be my main support staff, so we had to have a conversation about it to make sure we both felt comfortable. She had great insight and I ended up including her in the groups I ran and she contributed a great deal with the groups. Of course, I'm not the kind of person to ignore things and I want to know about the situation and the feelings involved, including looking for strategies to make everyone comfortable BEFORE it becomes and actual situation. Maybe it's the psych nurse in me. A year though doesn't sound like long enough to me.

Forgive me if my warning is either obvious or off-base, but it seems like another problem with this situation is that it's not entirely easy to discuss your concerns about his workplace behavior due to the fact that they are sort of made "more real" based on information that is only known to you through HIPAA-protected means. So I would be exceedingly careful in what you choose to discuss with *anyone* regarding all of this.

If there is a work-related factual situation that needs to be reported, so be it. Just don't tack on any commentary about how whatever wrong thing you observed in the workplace is so much more concerning because of his history of ______. And really I wouldn't entertain co-worker discussions about him. If you have a problem, report it. If they have a problem, THEY need to report it. I think in order to avoid danger (and impropriety) here, you have to have a mental wall of separation between his history and your workplace observations.

Good luck ~

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