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Patient Abuse/Nepotism

Posted

Specializes in medsurg. Has 9 years experience.

Hello, I am a registered nurse in need of some advice. In my place of work there is patient abuse, and staff abuse that has been going on for some time now, it is my belief that nepotism is keeping the abuser from the receiving the justice that they greatly deserve. The abuse is being committed by a fellow RN. I'll start with the first incidence I know of, the RN was assigned to care for a man on hospice with not much longer to live, the patient had no motor function from the neck down, and had a excessive amount of salivation requiring frequent oral care. At change of shift the oncoming RN found this patient with gnats all over his face with a "kleenex" box wrapped in a washcloth tucked under his chin , this was reported, nothing ever came of it. Another patient the abusive RN cared for required transfer to ED and died 2 days later, the nurse left this patient outside during the winter time for the majority of the shift, Foley bag ready to burst, patient skin reddened from the cold, unstable vital signs. Another patient of this abusive RN simply asked for a muscle rub cream to be applied to his leg, this RN decided to rub an excessive amount onto the patients genitals, this caused the patient a great deal of pain, some of the cream ended up in the patients urethra, the nurse laughed and bragged about it, when this particular instance was reported to management, the nurse manager said "he must have accidentally put the cream on the wrong body part or maybe he looked at the wrong order" the nurse manager even found the instance slightly funny ( this patient does not nor ever has received any cream to/for the genital area). A different RN made a complaint to management about the abusive RN stating that the RN threateningly backed her into a corner in a highly confrontational manner, the manager blew this off, the nurse suggested to the manager to watch the video recording as this event happened directly in front of a camera, the manager never watched the video, nothing ever came of it. Many patients on the unit frequently request/almost beg to have this person as their nurse. Patients say that this nurse is rough with them, rushed, this nurse frequently leaves the floor to smoke and is often not readily available for the patients. The abusive nurse has a family member that is a nurse manager on a different unit, that manager is friends with our nurse manager, both managers and the abusive nurse are friends with the manager's boss, who overseas all of the units in our section of the hospital. All of the atrocities have that this abusive nurse have committed have been reported to management, and nothing has ever been done about it. People are afraid to report to any "higher-ups" because we do not know how deep the rabbit hole of nepotism goes. The ethical nurses who have reported on these instances have been the targets of many forms of retaliation from management, including bullying, hostile working environment, changes to the nurses work schedule, false accusations despite documented proof (time stamps, camera recordings..etc) and many other forms of retaliation to the nurses who try to make a difference. If anyone has any advice on how to proceed please share, thanks... concerned RN

You are legally required to report any abuse you witness to the BON and I believe the state as well. This can be done anonymously. If you do not report it yours and your co-workers’ licenses are at risk and you may face criminal charges if this abuse is investigated by the authorities.

So many details for such a straightforward problem. If you believe there is patient abuse going on you have a duty to report it to appropriate authorities.

Given the difficulties you report, finding a new job also seems reasonable.

Ethical_RN, ADN, BSN, APRN

Specializes in medsurg. Has 9 years experience.

I've been told in the past that State investigations are blocked by, or handed over to Federal organizations when the organization being investigated is federal? So its not such a straightforward problem @JKL33 especially when the appropriate authorities to report it to are the ones retaliating against the whistleblowers.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

You need to make a call to the BON. Yesterday. I would find a new job, then rattle all the cages I could think of. Call the family members of the abused patients. Find a friendly media outlet. Are they Joint Commission-accredited? Call them up, too.

Get yourself out of there and blow the whistle on them.

Ethical_RN, ADN, BSN, APRN

Specializes in medsurg. Has 9 years experience.

@TriciaJ the dilemma is that I don't want to leave, I care so much for the residents, I want to do whatever is in my power to make their lives better and end this abuse, I'm in the process of figuring out who exactly I need to/should talk to, I'm not alone on this I do have some help. It's just such a catch-22, doing the right thing can get yourself black-balled and out of a career, but not doing the right thing allows abuse to continue, trust me not doing the right is not even an option on my radar, I'm just trying to figure out the best way to go about it, thanks for your input btw.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Here is my 2 cent advice:

a. Issues you've written about here should have been documented IN WRITING objectively to the Unit Manager. Reporter often does not know what Management is doing about situation: collecting more information, indirect observation + or using progressive counseling.

Does your facility have a PATIENT ADVOCATE that you can direct patient complaints to? If not, an OMBUDSMAN (required by Medicare regs) information often posted at entrance to facility or near time clock that report can be made to. Additionally, report can be made to Board of Health/ state licensing department re patient abuse occurring --they usually respond onsite within 1-2wks and perform active investigation.

Make sure your I's are dotted and T's crossed as you plan your exit to different employer as you do not want to be involved in patient abuse/neglect lawsuit.

Best wishes in handling this delicate work situation.

Ethical_RN, ADN, BSN, APRN

Specializes in medsurg. Has 9 years experience.

@NRSKarenRN so are you saying that pretty much no matter what that when i report this I will most likely have to find a new employer?

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

15 minutes ago, Ethical_RN said:

@NRSKarenRN so are you saying that pretty much no matter what that when i report this I will most likely have to find a new employer?

If you don't report this you'll be legally liable as well. And honestly, do you want to continue to work for such a place?

CharleeFoxtrot, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

18 minutes ago, Jedrnurse said:

If you don't report this you'll be legally liable as well. And honestly, do you want to continue to work for such a place?

This. Beyond the moral obligation to report abuse nurses (and other professionals) are required to report by law. Failure to do so is punishable by law.

6 hours ago, Ethical_RN said:

So its not such a straightforward problem @JKL33 especially when the appropriate authorities to report it to are the ones retaliating against the whistleblowers.

It seems that your subsequent posts contain relevant information that was not available when I replied. (Although many nurses have faced retaliation including job loss from much smaller players than what you are implying).

What everyone is saying is that your only option (according to nursing ethics and the law) is to report and figure out the rest later.

45 minutes ago, Ethical_RN said:

are you saying that pretty much no matter what that when i report this I will most likely have to find a new employer?

Maybe. But the question also is always, why do you want to continue to risk this type of environment anyway? I'm not saying that being terminated would be great or fine, just that you should want to get out of there and practice somewhere that their basic culture of functioning does not place you at inherent risk.

Good luck ~

Ethical_RN, ADN, BSN, APRN

Specializes in medsurg. Has 9 years experience.

We reported this morning to our direct Supervisor, she said that the abusive nurse is currently under investigation, the "higher ups"are currently conducting patient interviews, the one thing I don't understand is why is this nurse still allowed to work during all of this? Also a little personal background info, I'm newer to this facility and I just started hearing about these instances from co-workers over the last 3 days, I'm also a fairly newer nurse, I obtained my aprn as soon as I was eligible to the program... So not a whole whole lot of experience, so I truly do appreciate the advice you guys have given me on here, it definitely helped when I talked to my supervisor..thank you all(nurses)

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

Calls to the BON are anonymous. I would still do that. They will start an investigation that does not depend on the cooperation of management.

CharleeFoxtrot, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

22 minutes ago, TriciaJ said:

Calls to the BON are anonymous. I would still do that. They will start an investigation that does not depend on the cooperation of management.

Honestly I would advise you do this too. Since you say that nepotism rules in that place I certainly would not take "it's being investigated" as an answer!

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

15 minutes ago, CharleeFoxtrot said:

Honestly I would advise you do this too. Since you say that nepotism rules in that place I certainly would not take "it's being investigated" as an answer!

Exactly. Investigations of this type usually involve the subject being put on administrative leave. Still working while being investigated for outright patient abuse? Unusual and unlikely. A year from now when it's still going on and you ask about the investigation? "We didn't find any evidence." That's why you need to take it outside the system, like the BON.

OK first off, forget your legal liability for a second. You mean to tell me this woman has left patients in the cold and rubbed muscle cream on someone's genitals and you've done NOTHING? Not only should she not be a nurse, she shouldn't be allowed to touch someone's hamburger. Much less a human. She belongs in jail. I seriously hope you take everyone's advice. I understand you have bills to pay and need a job.