I have only been in psych nursing for 8 months although I have been a nurse for 15 years and recently completed my MSN-Nurse Practitioner requirements. I was recently terminated for the above reason and also denied unemployment. I was pulled to a residential adolescent unit to work as a Mental Health Tech due to DHS ratio requirements. We have very strict rules regarding patients and contraband. These patients are there because they either attempted suicide or made statements of wanting to harm themselves or others. Their safety is our main concern.
A patient I was not familiar with approached me at the staff table and asked me for another paper cup at the evening meal. I asked her where the cup I gave her with her dinner was. She replied that she threw it away. I was suspicious as there was not a trash bag out yet and besides they must ask permission to throw away so we are sure they don't hide anything on their person. I have seen it all and patients often eat things like paper cups, antiseptic wipes, crayons, even pencils. I felt it was my responsibility to be direct with her to be sure she was safe. She started to get defensive. I then noticed that her chest area was all lumpy with hard edges, like she might have hidden things in her bra. I explained to her why I was asking and reminded her of the policy. She continued to be insulted about me asking. I had a pen in my right hand, (I am left handed) and was moving my hands as we talked. I very casually, and without any drama, pointed to the right center of her chest area and asked "What is that??" like I was perplexed, (which I was!). My pen accidently touched her shirt and I heard a "pop", just like Styrofoam. I reported it to the other tech and the nurse assigned to the unit. His comment was "Don't worry about it, she is going home soon anyway". Next day the patient reported it and I was fired, confirmed, they said, on video tape. ( no audio). Reason: She was a male transitioning to female and I violated the therapeutic boundaries of a transgender patient by touching her chest with my pen.with her chest area. The policy they used was "professional standards of conduct" therefore considered misconduct. I have been bullied by this nurse manager since I arrived. I am appealing the unemployment. I cannot find an actual definition of therapeutic boundaries in their manual. What is my defense, do I have a chance of convincing Unemployment this was not misconduct? Professional conduct is defined as "any sexual, emotional, or physical abuse to a patient..."