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Nurses who blow the whistle on other Nurses.


Has <1 years experience.

I have to give a group presentation on "Whistle-blowing". We did our research, put together our slides and met our professor to get her approval before presenting next week.

She said that we focused too much on corporate or administrative whistle-blowing concepts. She says there is a range of types of whistle-blowing that can be anything from a nurse witnessing improper sterile technique by another nurse, then saying something to him/her; all the way to Medicare fraud and diverting drugs that require more formal protocols to follow for whistle-blowing.

That is fine, we will make her suggested changes, I just didn't find anything in my research that specifies Nurses blowing the whistle on other nurses, and the proper way to handle it (confronting them and educating them.)

I am re-doing my slides, so I thought I would come here to see if there is anything else you think I should include about this topic. What are your thoughts on talking to another nurse about safe techniques, how would you like a new grad to approach someone, or how would the experienced nurse approach a new grad? Do your facilities have any specific protocols, and/or protections for nurses who blow the whistle (for any reason legal or illegal).


Oftentimes, (but not all the time), it is not appropriate to approach the coworker about a problem. The observation should be discussed with the supervisor and then the supervisor takes the reins on dealing with the situation. But many times, on a day to day basis, you can approach the coworker in a discreet manner to bring something to their attention and they can fix the problem before things get out of hand. An example of this: You notice on a (hard copy, not eMAR) MAR, that your colleague has failed to initial off on several meds or treatments. You bring it to his/her attention and they correct it. An example of the type of problem that should go to the supervisor: you see that several nurses do not submit correct time sheets on a home health case. Often the client approaches you to do the same when you first start a case, saying they don't mind signing off when you leave two hours early. Since this involves several moving parts: more than one nurse, the client, reportable insurance fraud, you should take the problem to the employer for them to handle it. It is too big a deal for you to have one on one conversations with all of the others involved, and you want to have a clear picture that you refused to be complicit should an outside investigation take place. You can come up with other examples that fit the two categories and explain that it takes a certain amount of critical thinking to distinguish what should be taken immediately to the supervisor versus what can be discussed with the other nurse first.

Insurance fraud and other types of malfeasance are usually covered by an employer's compliance training at the hiring orientation. A person is provided the compliance line number to call to make a report. The day to day items that one discusses with another nurse, not so much aware of policies or procedures. I learned about "having another nurse's back" from coworkers on the job when I was new to the field.