Should I Be Worried On How I Handled Phone Call From State?

Updated:   Published

Did I handle phone call correctly?

I've been working in a SNF for a few months. I received a phone call while I was at work from someone who's from the state and she asked to interview a clinician involved in the care of one of my patients.

I struggled to answer many of her questions about the patient because he can hardly talk and doesn't communicate much. I explained that to her and I also got my answers from his chart, but she had so many specific questions about what his affect or mood is and if he experiences hallucinations/delusions.

I didn't know how to answer because of the general lack of communication from him and I just wasn't prepared for it. She asked to speak to the resident directly. I had to call her right back on my personal cell phone because he's confined to bed and our phone is corded.

She asked him general questions about how he's doing there and he either responded with yes/no or made nonsensical grunting noises. The CNA happened to be in the room and took over the call. He told her the resident was unhappy in his current room where his roommates hate him and call him names. He told her it was a bad idea to move him to that room and he was happier where he was at before.

The resident was recently switched rooms because of a totally separate situation where some other residents were not getting along. The administrator at our facility quickly found out about the call and called both of us into her office.

She told me if the state calls I need to give her the phone and let her take the call. Her attention turned to the CNA because he brought up the roommate situation to the state. They began arguing and it escalated to a point where the administrator asked him to leave and clock out for the day.

As he was leaving he was yelling, "*** all the patients here because [the administrator] is mad!" He accused her of being selfish because he was sending him home and leaving the residents with 1 fewer CNA to attend to them.

I wonder if the state will launch an investigation and I will be fired for the way I answered the questions. In light of this event, the administrator made all the staff sign a paper agreeing that we give the phone to her and let her talk to them if the state ever calls us.

I wish I had just given the administrator the phone. I didn't think to do that. I thought the call was for me because I was his nurse at the time of the call. I didn't know it would turn into this.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

3,663 Posts

Specializes in dialysis. Has 30 years experience.

Ummmm, NEVER, EVER answer questions via phone regarding patient/staff/facility. If the person on the other end demands answers, refer them to the DON, ADON, or ED. You have no proof who you were talking to, it could have been anyone, which now could be a HIPAA situation 

State generally shows up in person, and management will give them an overview of what they need, staff will be brought in to question regarding specifics. 

Lawyers use this tactic for lawsuits, I've seen it more than once

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 8 years experience.

Handling a call from the state is way above staff nursing pay grade. I would have politely declined the call and provided the telephone number to administration and ended the call. 

Also, do not use your personal mobile phone for work purposes especially in the situation you described. 

Specializes in Occupational Health. Has 19 years experience.

Just because they "said" they're from the State doesn't mean they actually are...could have been a fishing expedition by a lawyer, family member, etc.

This could be a major HIPAA violation, breach of facility protocol, etc. 

Never talk to unverifiable source seeking documentation or the media for that matter. Let the administration handle it.

Hope this doesn't turn into a horrible situation for you and just ends up as a "lesson learned" type of thing.

Specializes in BSN, RN, CVRN-BC. Has 27 years experience.

I think that this has already been said, but it bears repeating.  The DON gets paid to put up with this stuff.  Next time just forward it up the chain of command and let them deal with it.  I think that you are fine.  You made a mistake.  You've been counseled.  Don't do it again.  I think that Jesus said "go forth and sin no more."  

mdsRN2005

23 Posts

Hoosier_RN said:

Ummmm, NEVER, EVER answer questions via phone regarding patient/staff/facility. If the person on the other end demands answers, refer them to the DON, ADON, or ED. You have no proof who you were talking to, it could have been anyone, which now could be a HIPAA situation 

State generally shows up in person, and management will give them an overview of what they need, staff will be brought in to question regarding specifics. 

Lawyers use this tactic for lawsuits, I've seen it more than once

Angry family members use it too.  I'm suspicious like others that this was not actually a state agency you were talking to.  In the future, I'd make sure to get the name and title of the person you're talking to, then inform them management will call back.  These questions (even if valid) are rarely emergent, and this would buy your manager some time to investigate as opposed to being transferred a potentially bogus call.  Also be aware that if this was a family member, there's a high likelihood you were being recorded, which could easily come back to haunt you.  Hope this blows over with no serious consequences.   Definitely a learning lesson!