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Patient complaint-freaking out!


My manager called me today to tell me there was a complaint filed against me by a patient and that I'm now suspended while they investigate. She said it was filed late on Friday and that she had no information, including which patient it was.

Frankly, I'm freaking out.

I've never had a complaint against me in the 5 years I've been a nurse but the hospital where I work is termination happy. I've seen other nurses fired after a single complaint. Recently, a coworker forgot to return a vial of controlled medication and accidently took it home. She returned it the next day AND passed a drug test but they fired her anyway.

I had a patient last week who seemed very strange. I explained everything but he seemed very suspicious about everything I did. I had even mentioned it to the charge nurse. His family also seemed suspicious and the wife was angry that he was made ICU status after being admitted med surg status and no one told them. But his status was changed on a previous shift and I thought they knew. His daughter is also a nurse and was asking me about his medications, etc, in a kind of confrontational manner. I don't know if this is the patient who complained but its the only "situation" I can think of and I suspect it is.

So, I'm suspended for the next 2 days while my manager investigates. She said she will probably call me on Tuesday to talk to me about it. I'm just afraid I am going to get fired. I have never been fired in my life and I don't want to start now.

I don't know how I'm going to get through the next two days not knowing if I still have a job.

dream'n, BSN, RN

Specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych. Has 27 years experience.

That's a crappy manager. She'll suspend you without even knowing what it's about (or just not telling you).

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Taking home controlled substances is a far cry from a patient complaint.

I have never worked in a facility where a nurse was suspended during the investigation. That is not the process. Any disciplinary action takes place after the investigation, if it is warranted.

Spend these days off searching for employment in a facility that is not "termination happy". Do not go to the meeting with the manager alone.

Best wishes, let us know how it's going.


Specializes in MCH,NICU,NNsy,Educ,Village Nursing.

I'm sorry you're going through this and wish you the best. You mentioned that the patient's daughter is also a nurse. Have you considered the possibility that she may also be a member of this discussion board and that you might not want to discuss this on this site? Just a thought.

NurseCard, ADN

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health. Has 13 years experience.

Hmmmm... the nurse who took the controlled substance home would have

been VERY smart to go ahead and bring it right back. You know? Just saying.

You don't know what those other nurses got fired for. Really. They may have

had very valid complaints filed against them.

Probably wouldn't hurt to be looking at other employment options, but...

things at your current job may turn out OK. You sound like a good

nurse who may just be in an unfortunate situation.

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

I see you're in Wyoming. I lived in Wyoming when I was put on "paid administrative leave" while an investigation was done on a patient complaint. (I posted about in the HIPAA forums)

It is nerve wracking. My case was complete BS, I never violated HIPAA nor did I do anything wrong. But I was scared as I had never been fired, I was a single mom of 4 kids not getting any support. Thankfully my leave was paid. The investigation I was ultimately cleared and returned to work, my boss joked to look at it as a paid vacation on their dime. Although worrying that your job is in limbo is anything but a vacation. I am sorry this is happening. I hope it gets worked out.

iluvivt, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

It seems that the managment in hospitals is so brainwashed about patient satisfaction that they are willing to do this to their hard working professionals. You are no danger to anyone nor has anyone accused you of sexual harassment. I know that hospitals do not want to lose the percentage of the Medicare dollars that have been ignorantly tied to patient satisfaction scores but this is not the way to do it on the backs of the nurses and other employees that are caregivers.


Specializes in Neuro, Telemetry. Has 5 years experience.

Is it possible it's an abuse allegation? That is the only valid reason I can think of for suspending you during the investigation. Generally, any abuse allegation requires up to a 3 day suspension while it is investigated. If it is unfounded and resolved, then you are paid those days if you were originally scheduled to work. If it is founded and you are deemed guilty of abuse, the you are terminated and reported to the board.

If you did nothing wrong, then you should likely be ok.

bgxyrnf, MSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Tele; ED; ICU. Has 10 years experience.

I would spend the time updating my resume, contacting references, and submitting applications.

First off, any joint that is "termination happy" isn't somewhere that I'd want to spend my career.

Second, any manager who would suspend me without any comment about why is not someone that I'd want to work for.

And third, my experience is that suspensions during investigation usually result in termination. I've only known one person to be suspended who ultimately came back and in that case it was only because HR didn't follow their procedures to the letter and the nurse (who was pretty well-to-do) got a high-priced lawyer and forced her way back in the door until she quit 6 months later.

Wow what kind of hospital is that? It costs alot to train a nurse so my hospital would not fire nurses easily unless it has to with VIP patients.

One of my colleague was forced to resign because a "VIP" patient's sister whose the boss in nursing education filed complaints against her for not giving the patient a urinal when being asked to and not starting the patients on antibiotics when he arrived the unit in the middle of the night.

But in other more serious incidents in which patient's safety were jeopardized -- a nurse hanging vancomycin instead of levephed drip, and hanging morphine instead of Flagy, not reporting a fever of 104F and the patient ended up having a seizure , etc..the nurses only had to be re-educated” and didn't get suspended.

Maybe you should start applying for other hospitals. Its not worth the stress working in a termination happy hospital.

Edited by raeraekan


Has 20 years experience.

I have only ever worked at one facility that was termination happy. Suspension on pay was common, the next step was normally a "meeting" at which the persons employment was terminated. The facility routinely declined to allow the person the option to resign at that point.

Immediate suspension with no discussion of details would imply that they consider the allegation to be very serious, which doesn't bode well for your future at this hospital. Do not kid yourself your manger knows exactly what the complaint involved, they just don't what to give you any help preparing a defense. It might be time to consider if it would be better to resign than risk being terminated.

Good luck.

Resign. Life really is too short for this. People don't get to treat other people that way.

Are they downsizing? Sounds like they're more than happy to terminate no matter what the cause.

Did you ask what the complaint was about? I don't see why you wouldnt be able to get more info about it especially that you are suspended until they investigate. And how do they investigate without even asking your side ifvteh story. Seems very strange to me.

applewhitern, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 30 years experience.

I was suspended once, without pay, for patient abuse. Turns out, I never even had that patient. She was 94 yes old and confused. Somehow they decided it was me, and suspended me without even checking anything. It was another nurse with a similar name. Then I was suspended another time, 3 days without pay, because a patient threatened to hit me! (I must have done something to make him mad, they said.). Frankly, I don't see why anybody would want to be a nurse, with the way were treated. I've been a nurse for 29 years, and it just gets worse. Good luck, dear.


Specializes in Med/Surg/Hem/Onc/Psyc. Has 2 years experience.

I have had a patient complaint this year actually. My manager (who I am lucky to have) reads the complaint, checks our notes, then calls us in for our side of the story. She then speaks to the patient. The complaint against me came back as unfounded. I have never been suspended pending an investigation.

As far as the controlled substance issue with the other coworker, she should have turned around and returned that medication, not wait until the next day to do it.

Definitely do not go into the meeting with the manager alone. I would suggest using this time to seek other job opportunities just in case. I'm surprised a manager would do this because hospitals spend so much money training nurses. Best of luck!