Shady shift change


So, I work 12 hour night shift, and most of my unit is on 12 hour shifts. We are a split unit, with half of the floor being ICU beds, and the other half step down/med-surg. Since I am a relatively new grad who is not yet ACLS certified, I always work on the step down side.

The other day, I showed up to work about 10 minutes early, and checked the nursing assignments. There were three of us coming in at 7pm, and four day shifters going home. I was taking over 6 patients on the med surg side of the floor, and the other two night nurses, (who were not there yet) were assigned to the ICU side. As I looked up from the assignment book, I realized that all three of the day shift nurses who were working in ICU had their coats on, purses in hand, and were about to leave. The secretary pointed out to them that there was no one there to take over for them. They pointed to me, and said "she can until the rest of the night shift shows up." and walked out the door. It was still not yet 7pm.

So, instead of heading over to the other side of the floor and getting my own assignment, I had to hang out in the ICU and wait until the other two night shift RN's showed up. My question is, would you call this patient abandonment? Or is it just a case of horizontal hostility?


672 Posts

Specializes in Going to Peds!.

Patient abandonment. And I would be making an anonymous report to the board. You're not ACLS certified. You hadn't even received report.

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU. Has 19 years experience.

Patient Abandonment.


Loss of job

Ultimate Consequence:

Loss of license.

You were put in a position that endangered patients. You do not have a choice; you must enlighten upper management and should they choose to not do something about it, your state's BON.

This is totally unacceptable.

And were it up to me, they would not only lose their license, they would go to jail.


38,333 Posts

Those nurses knew that you are not ACLS certified and that you are not prepared to take on that patient load without proper supervision. And since when is an ICU patient left alone? The patients in excess of two that were left in your care really had no care since you could only, at best, watch two patients. And that is if you were qualified to do so. Abandonment. You should report this. And yes, this is a hostile environment when nurses are perfectly willing to jeopardize their critically ill patients to screw over a new hire.


1,756 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Memory loss, PDN. Has 23 years experience.

Refusal to stay over AFTER the scheduled shift (as in working several extra hours) is usually considered an employment issue rather than abandonment. Legally, I'm not sure whether the term abandonment would apply in this situation, but at the very least, this is willful endangerment of patients and I cannot think of any manager or administrator who would not go through the roof. What a sorry bunch. I would not hesitate to bring this to light for the patients' sake. You don't have to make an angry report, but rather, as a new grad, you could simply inquire on how to handle this type of situation. Be aware that if the other night nurses were indeed late, they will also hear about it.


1,975 Posts

Patient abandonment. There is no doubt about that. Report it at once and don't feel an ounce guilty about doing so.

morte, LPN, LVN

7,015 Posts

totally..absolutely..unacceptable......I can not fathom this behavior......


353 Posts

Specializes in Rehab, Step-down,Tele,Hospice.

Oh hell NO..., this would NOT happen, no report was given to a qualified nurse, I would be on the phone so fast their head would spin.


365 Posts

As soon as whatever was called a "report" was given and you realized what they were asking you to do was inappropriate, START CLIMBING THE LADDER.

Call the super, call the DON, call the medical director until you reach someone.

If the other nurses walk out, they abandoned. If you accept an unacceptable assignment, you are on the hook, too. At least at that point you can chart "Supervisor notified."

bill4745, RN

874 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ER. Has 15 years experience.

If the other nurses walk out, they abandoned. If you accept an unacceptable assignment, you are on the hook, too. At least at that point you can chart "Supervisor notified."


Has 13 years experience.

That is awful, and those nurses should be ashamed. It would be bad enough on a med surge type floor, but esp in the ICU! :banghead: I would report this without blinking. Let them label the action itself. You cover yourself and your patients!


1 Article; 1,350 Posts

As soon as that happened, you should have started up the chain of command, and documented every action. You have the right to refuse an unsafe assignment, and that certainly qualified as such. New or not, they did not have the right to do that to you.

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