Patient abuse

  1. I witnessed a nursing supervisor physically abuse a patient. While I have seen abuse before, this rose to a level at which I think the supervisor should face charges in court for assault. It was that bad. That supervisor's judgment is atrocious.

    Unfortunately for me, I saw how likely it was for other hospital staff to be injured in the ensuing drama, so I did what I had to do to make sure nobody else got hurt. In the process, I did some things that were obviously bad calls... I said at the time to stop what was going on, deescalate, leave the room, don't do this or that, but the supervisor had their Supervisor bullhorn out and was shouting orders.

    This facility has covered for that person in the past. That supervisor has been reported for executing an S&R event and not bothering with the paperwork. They let it slide. There have been numerous other incidents where the patient was provoked into certain behaviors by this supervisor, and this supervisor's friends covered.

    Now I have other supervisors calling me on the phone and telling me that if I have concerns about this or that, that I should just write it down and turn it in without fear of retalliation. Oh please. Yeah, I should just do that. I should do that, kick the bear, and not think about my little kids at home and what happens when I show up at work to find all this supervisor's ******-off friends waiting for me to slip up somewhere so they can throw me under the bus. It's happened before at this facility.

    Oh, and the new DON came to see me today and scheduled an hour long appointment for me to come and meet with her. Specifically about that event. At the time, I said I didn't want anything to do with that contagious garbage, don't mention my name, don't connect me with that in any way, don't make me pick up a pen because nobody's going to be happy if I start writing it down.

    I really don't want to talk to the DON. The idea of it is making my skin crawl. Jobs aren't falling from the trees these days. I have other options. Two facilities have contacted me about similar positions, and 98% of me wants to just walk away and not do this. Like the DON is going to can this supervisor based on what somebody who's been at the hospital for six weeks has to say.

    She's doing this under the auspices of "setting up a training session" for staff. I'm thinking about keeping the discussion strictly to training needs and equipment needs, and refuse to discuss the abuse incident until the DON can schedule a meeting that includes the supervisor so we can all lay our cards down together.
  2. Visit algebra_demystified profile page

    About algebra_demystified

    Joined: Sep '06; Posts: 220; Likes: 209
    Mental Health RN; from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in Forensic Psychiatric Nursing


  3. by   jkr2020788
    In nursing school you most probably learned that the patient takes number one priority and that your job is to make sure the patient is not hurt. This means medicine errors, mental abuse (remember all the elder/ped abuse you learned about?), and physical abuse. I see that you are concerned, so that is definitely a good thing. Just know that they can not fire you for being a patient advocate, as long as you go about doing things in the proper manner. I would personally go to HR. If HR refuses to take care of anything, the next thing I would do, would be to get in touch with your local nursing association. Many nursing associations can be very helpful with ethical/legal problems.
  4. by   crb613
    "i witnessed a nursing supervisor physically abuse a patient. while i have seen abuse before, this rose to a level at which i think the supervisor should face charges in court for assault. it was that bad. that supervisor's judgment is atrocious".

    this to me says it all...i don't care if i had been an employee for 16 years, or 6 weeks....i would report to any and all that i could report to, and i would have called the police to boot!. i hope you do what you need to so that this piece of crap can never hurt anyone else again. i would also take one of the other job offers asap.
  5. by   bagladyrn
    This is something you alone can decide - Is this a situation you can ethically walk away from without reporting? It will depend upon your own values and what you are willing to risk.
    I have been in this sort of situation. After a sleepless night I knew that I could not face myself if I did not speak up. Others who witnessed it did not feel they could risk speaking out (their judgement and their life situations may have been different than mine). Honestly, there were repercussions, both to myself and to the one other person willing to put their name on record. Would I do it again knowing what those repercussions would be - yes. In my case I felt no choice.
  6. by   AOx1
    I had to report a coworker for abusing a patient. It was such a horrible decision, and she was fired and hates me to this day. However, I kept picturing that being MY loved one that she hit, and it made the decision more clear. I was also afraid that I would lose my job, but for me, no amount of money was worth my integrity and the patient's right to be safe. If things had gone differently and I had been fired, I would have filed for unemployment and hired an attorney.
  7. by   DizzyLizzyNurse
    Don't forget. If it comes out eventually that you knew about the abuse and didn't do anything about it, you will be considered just a guilty as the abuser. Please report to the state, and go get another job.
  8. by   nurse2033
    What I'm hearing is you are going to turn a blind eye to abuse to protect your job. Does that sound good to you? Make an anonymous call to the police or adult protective services and they will be obliged to investigate. Do nothing, and you are just as guilty.
  9. by   classicdame
    even at the risk of losing your job (and who would want to work there?) you should notify the BON or police or both. It is your duty as a professional. I would also write it up for the employer, keep a copy. They may be wanted a paper trail to get rid of this person without a lawsuit against them. DO IT
  10. by   Libitina
    I know I am UK based but I'm sure our NMC rule that states we are, as nurses, responsible for both our acts and ommisions of care still applies where you are. Therefore, as previously stated, if you do not report this, you are just as guilty as the supervisor. Do it through the correct channels and they will not be able to touch you.
  11. by   Esme12
    In some states if a nurse fails to report abuse she/he will be charged as well for you are just as involved for not reporting as if you abused yourself. I won't ask what your "obviously bad calls" were that may have you in a compromising position but if you aren't apart of the solution you are a part of the problem. You maybe 100% correct that this will also be your end and will be the "corrective action". But doing the right thing may not always be the easy thing to's the right thing to do.

    The choice is your to make. I wish you the best.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Jun 7, '12
  12. by   Rob72
    If you are able to verbalize what constitutes assault, vs. battery, and how the two progress, and if the patient is lucid, just call the Police.

    I have no idea what the situation was, obviously, but it would not be unheard of for a supervisor to escalate a non-compliant patient's behavior(in a controlled, intentional manner) to have the patient removed from a facility, but for yuks & giggles, it is unacceptable.

    My thinking is, if it was serious enough for you to post, its serious enough to follow through. If this was "venting", it was very ill-considered, as you've stated refusal to comply with your duty to report.

    ...and Esme got there first.

    Okay, I just ran across the related post. Psych facilities are their own world, and I would pretty much say you're SOL, assuming what you saw qualified as A&B. Knowing that 2 RNs and 2 aides have been assaulted & battered at our local facility, one resulting in a permanent spinal injury, because of the facility's "no intervention" policy with the residents, I have a feeling I might understand where the super was coming form; maybe not, but if the monkeys run the zoo, and know it, playing screwhead with them may be one of the last ways to retain some measure of control.

    YMMV, I do not know your facility, this response is biased by personal experience, etc., etc..
    Last edit by Rob72 on Jun 7, '12
  13. by   wooh
    So did the facility actually "cover" for the supervisor before or the facility was stuck because just like this time, nobody would actually go on record to make the report?
  14. by   algebra_demystified
    To make a long story short, I got cornered at work by the DON. I'm going to give up the goods.