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Sleeping on the job.

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by swon1223 swon1223 (New Member) New Member

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evolvingrn works as a RN.

8,175 Visitors; 1,035 Posts

my charge nurse fell asleep at the computer the other day, it was an accident not on purpose and a cna did the other day also sitting upright and not on purpose. we work in 'teams' so you aren't actually ever alone to allow that so it was at most a two to five minute nod off....... It's definately not okay but we don't even write up just wake up and tell them to get a coffee. (like i said its only happened those two times that i know of) The difference with one on one is there is an acutal safety risk. I don't leave my one on ones in there for more than an hour without a small break and i encourage them to leave the room once the pt is sleeping and do 5 minute checks do help prevent falling asleep(with a pa and ba on the pt).

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Meraki has 12 years experience.

4,843 Visitors; 188 Posts

How many 12s did she do in a row? you said coming off a week... Being new it is hard to say no and it may be she accepted way to many shifts. The management may realize they kind of took advantage of her and feel partial responsibility hence not firing or suspending her. Staying wide awake while sitting with one pt all night is hard to do even when you are rested - especially when starting out and adjusting to night shift. If she did too many shifts in a row it may have just been more than her body could handle. 3 12s in a row is plenty.

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BrookeeLou_RN works as a disabled RN.

14,537 Visitors; 734 Posts

While every place I ever worked it was immediate termination,, the fact that they have no immediately terminated her could be seen as a chance she gets another chance.. But they will be watching her like a hawk.. So she should cut back hrs and make sure she gets enough sleep. 12 hrs can be killers and too manny in a row..not a good scene

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Chin up has 26 years experience and works as a Employment Law.

1 Like; 5,531 Visitors; 694 Posts

Her punishment was being written up. They would have terminated her immediately, but didn't. So relax. But, there really is no excuse for sleeping on the job...unless you are forced to attend 3 hour meetings, talking about nothing in 100 degree heat......(smile)

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NPvampire has 11 years experience and works as a PMHNP.

3,251 Visitors; 162 Posts

One of my employers not only fires instantly, but I have heard will deliberately and quietly come in the buildings to "check things out" at 3,4 a.m. So wrong. Night shift is hard for a lot of people to work, and drooping eyes are not necessarily a great danger. Hmm, this reminds me of my 7 a.m. undergrad courses. *zzzzz* huh? (turn page) *zzzzz*

I've seen nurses...under the influence??don't know???...that fall asleep, dead asleep right next to patients and a blaring television at 4 p.m. THAT's a problem. If I can't poke you awake, that's a problem. If I can't shake you and scream your name awake that's a REAL problem. Yes, I have seen this.

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lumbarpain has 17 years experience and works as a Homecare RN.

1 Like; 8,605 Visitors; 343 Posts

Yes, Most of the CNAs either had kids and went home to get kids off to school after they left a night shift or worked another job or were just too old to take the grind. Its a darn shame at times. I myself never liked working the nightshift because I felt Like everyone disappeared. I struggled so hard to keep awake and focused,:yawn: watching the clock :rolleyes:. However, I got alot of work done, straightened things out and organized. I liked it in one way, hated it in another. No big wigs walking around, relatively quiet. The mind was willing but the body said NO. CNAS deal with the crappiest part of nursing. I do mean crap.:eek: Its tough with the lifting, the struggling with difficult patients, and the stress and low pay.:twocents: Without them, We Nurses would be up craps creek, literally speaking.

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Old.Timer has 25ish years experience.

5,337 Visitors; 338 Posts

Granted, sitting at night is incredibly tough. There was a time when I would have been somewhat understanding of a sitter strugggling to stay alert, but not anymore......

Not since I had quite the experience hiring an overnight aide to sit and assist me with my brother-in-law ,have I had one iota of understanding for anyone caught sleeping on the job. My BIL was actively dying , his wife and family had been by his side for days and everyone was well beyond exhausted. There was a twin bed next to BIL bed, which is where his wife had been resting. I hired an aide to stay overnight and sent everyone off to bed. I asked her to wake me for any significant changes, as we would all want to get up. I also wanted someone right by his bed for the times he woke up. I set my alarm for q 2hrs for his medication and then was off to bed myself.

Two hours later, my alarm went off and I got up to assess for pain etc. Initially, when I walked into his room I didn't see the aide. I looked all over the house for her and then lo and behold, went back to his room and spotted her. Dang if she hadn't taken off her shoes, climbed into the twin bed and wrapped herself all up in a blanket and was now snoring just as loud as can be.

It's probably going to be a pretty long time before I can top that one. Not much surprises me anymore. . JJ

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lumbarpain has 17 years experience and works as a Homecare RN.

1 Like; 8,605 Visitors; 343 Posts

Personally, I dont know how anyone can sleep on a job. Your story is very sad, I am sorry about your BIL. Sadly , there are people without consciences, no guilt and should not even be in the medical field helping people. But, I guess the good have to tolerate the bad and do what they can to eliminate them so they dont do any more harm.

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evolvingrn works as a RN.

8,175 Visitors; 1,035 Posts

Granted, sitting at night is incredibly tough. There was a time when I would have been somewhat understanding of a sitter strugggling to stay alert, but not anymore......

Not since I had quite the experience hiring an overnight aide to sit and assist me with my brother-in-law ,have I had one iota of understanding for anyone caught sleeping on the job. My BIL was actively dying , his wife and family had been by his side for days and everyone was well beyond exhausted. There was a twin bed next to BIL bed, which is where his wife had been resting. I hired an aide to stay overnight and sent everyone off to bed. I asked her to wake me for any significant changes, as we would all want to get up. I also wanted someone right by his bed for the times he woke up. I set my alarm for q 2hrs for his medication and then was off to bed myself.

Two hours later, my alarm went off and I got up to assess for pain etc. Initially, when I walked into his room I didn’t see the aide. I looked all over the house for her and then lo and behold, went back to his room and spotted her. Dang if she hadn’t taken off her shoes, climbed into the twin bed and wrapped herself all up in a blanket and was now snoring just as loud as can be.

It’s probably going to be a pretty long time before I can top that one. Not much surprises me anymore. . JJ

That's too bad, we have had one on one aids that families hire to sit vigil around their loved ones. on rare, rare occassion people hire 24 hour round the clock support on top of being at our facility. one of them hired sleep aids for night and those people would pull out a couch at our facility, recently we had the same company and these were awake aides and they would document every hour and whenever we did something ect....... Im not sure how that is clarified.

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Emergency RN has 30 years experience and works as a RN.

10,903 Visitors; 544 Posts

Your preamble (detailing how dedicated she is, hard she had worked, and how she had only "dozed" off) only served as excuse making.

Sorry, but if sleeping on duty can be forgiven, I wonder if your GF can then apply for work as a school bus driver or train operator? Or, imagine if she was guarding or escorting a dangerous prisoner but fell asleep in the back of the prison van and the prisoner took her gun and then killed her with it? It is always considered gross dereliction of duty to fall asleep while on watch; in the military during times of war, it can be punishable by death. Obviously I could go on ad infinitum with many other gut wrenching scenarios here. The point I'm making is, that there comes a time when we're assigned to do something; we have to do it without failure; as they don't have "second chance" inherent in them. IMHO, like driving or guarding a prisoner; watching a patient falls into the same category.

Every employer that I've ever worked for feels the same way. Hence, sleeping on duty is considered a termination violation for even full time vested employees. For someone who is newly off probation, this is generally a no brainer (ie. not even up for discussion) termination offense. If they do not terminate her, it would set them up for the next time that someone else falls asleep, then that person can claim that they should be entitled to equal treatment (of being given a second chance too). This binds the employer for an impossible situation where all employees can then request second chances for sleep offenses. I wish her well, but sadly, in order for the employer to maintain effective and just discipline, your GF has to be let go. Let's all hope that she had learned a valuable life's lesson from this.

*** Sidebar *** Falling asleep from fatigue is something that we're all faced with from time to time. Ensuring proper rest before duty is a given. But when faced with the situation, what one should do when feeling tired is stand up, get a cup of coffee, walk around the room, splashed cold water on one's face; whatever... anything to assist oneself in maintaining alertness if Morpheus come calling. Conversely, curling up in a chair with feet up and a blanket over oneself (like I've seen many a tired and sleepy aide do), is nearly always employment and professional suicide. Treated in such a manner, a body is bound to relax to a point where its brain will automatically shut down. Additionally, anyone who feels prone to falling asleep but are not allowed to drink coffee while on duty can avail themselves of the caffeinated chewing gums like that use by the military. They sell them in larger outlets or on line too.

Looking at her past working schedule I would think that a meeting would have to take place including your friend the and dept supervisors. Her dozing is because of the 12 hour shifts. If these people have ever experienced working shifts of this sort and NOT FELT VERY TIRED, they are not human. She should not be fired. If she is taking these shifts KNOWING she will fall asleep, she should NOT do this to herself anymore. I dont think she should be fired. Her schedule needs proper time for recuperation and rest.

LOL... 25 years of being not human, and loving the 12 hour night shift. Usually, with the 12 hour shift, one only has to work three days a week. So if anything, she should have slept the other four. If she was working them then she was almost certainly doing extra shifts as overtime. If she cannot pull all those extra shifts without exhausting herself, then she should not bite off more than she can chew or else lose her job in the process.

Edited by Emergency RN

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locolorenzo22 works as a ortho neuro detox nurse, new tele nurse.

1 Article; 11,764 Visitors; 2,396 Posts

i have VERY little compassion if I had a confused or agitated patient who, by virtue of having a aide sitter, could be corrected in behavior or agitation and keep themselves safe, and make less work for the staff as well. If they fall asleep, and the patient ripped out a important IV line(think central line), or a foley, or got up and fell and broke something.....BOOM, you're gone!

I have personally sent sitters home(after two checks 5 mins apart, and verified by another staff member) for sleeping. You're not doing anybody any good by being asleep! go home, I'd rather know that I need to be in there.

just my .02 cents.

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232 Likes; 3 Followers; 95,209 Visitors; 36,400 Posts

We had a charge nurse who quite proudly slept away each shift. What irked me as much as anything else was watching the house supervisor sit in the same nurses station and say absolutely nothing to her. No corrective action whatsoever. The CNAs talked openly about the phenomenon and reported problems with her residents to the other nurses for action. And when the facility laid off two licensed nurses, this nurse kept her job in favor of two people who did their jobs. Talk about sending a message to the employees!

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