Patient abandenment and mandatory overtime


i am a lpn who works in ltc. lately our facility has been extremely short staffed and we have had many call outs. the don has said that the nurse must stay the extra shift ( 16 hours!) if no nurse can be found. this has been occurring almost daily and no nurses are ever found despite calling the 10 or so prn's who never come in/answer the phone. staff have notified the don that they are too tired or unable to accept extra patients, we have been told we had better not make a mistake and if we leave, we will be charged with patient abandonment. i have researched the gbon decision on abandonment and they have the following statement

"leaving an assigned patient(s) assignment, for which you have accepted responsibility, prior to the end of an agreed upon work period without appropriately notifying supervisory personnel."

she has had no response to this information other than continuing to insist the nurse stays or she will make sure they lose their license. i am afraid to be the one to actually pull the trigger and leave my patients in the middle of the night, but what can i do? what steps do i take? if i keep working well beyond my breaking point, i will make a grievous mistake and someone will be hurt, if i leave, i will be hurt.

Specializes in ER, Pediatric Transplant, PICU. Has 7 years experience.

I would CALL the BON before I did anything. I understand it sounds like you would be protected based on the wording, but I would also be concerned because you would technically be leaving your patients without handing them off to another nurse, so you could still be held accountable.

I'm also sure the department of labor would like to hear about it, as this may be considered unsafe. But I'm not sure about Ga laws about mandatory overtime. I do think this is a big deal if they aren't paying you overtime, at least, but I'm not sure if its the case.

Good luck to you!


93 Posts

It's been a month, so hopefully things have been resolved, but I wanted to add. If they aren't paying you overtime for an hourly job, then I think that's actually illegal.

And if you look at that statement, there are a few things about it that could be thrown back at the manager. First, a 16 hour work period wasn't agreed upon. If you are scheduled for 8 or 12 hours, you obviously didn't agree to 16. Unless there's some legal jargon in your hiring paperwork stating you have an on call status in terms of when your shift ends after you've begun the shift, you didn't agree upon a 16 hour shift. The only way you would have agreed on it is if you agreed to it after she informed you of the change (which threatening you with losing your license seems like it would also be minimum something to report to HR...and I'd never agree if that were said to me). The other thing in that statement is "without appropriately notifying supervisory personnel." If she changes the length of your shift during that shift, then give a written notice (and make copies, because she sounds like she would conveniently "lose" it) to your supervisor and have her sign it, if possible, after being notified of the change. I'm sure there's another supervisor you could do the same with.

The hospital employment environment probably has different standards from what I'm familiar with, but that's honestly what I would say to do. She's putting you in a compromised position without considering the patient's well-being. It's also abusive...she sounds like she's trying to test the waters to see who she can keep under her thumb by any possible measures. Personally, I wouldn't give in to that kind of treatment, but like I said, I'm not sure of all the circumstances/contracts/etc.

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 5 years experience.

This is a scary situation. Please keep us informed about what happened.