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40 weeks pregnant and working alone


I'm a new nurse that started working at this facility in July. Census has been hanging around 40 and I work nights. Acuity is not super high, most of my time is spent giving PRN pain meds and dealing with behaviors, and on some other random tasks that are delegated to night shift.

I asked to not be scheduled past my due date, that maybe I would pick up shifts at that point but no longer wanted to be scheduled for them. Guess what, due date is today, and I am scheduled tonight and tomorrow night and who knows what after that. I told the scheduler that I am not comfortable with this and at least need to have someone specific I can call that can drop everything and come in quickly should I go into labor at work. I was told not to worry and I'd be texted the plan yesterday. Guess what, I wasn't.

I feel reasonably confident tonight isn't the night, but after this, not so much. I am hoping I will be pleasantly surprised with an extra nurse on staff tonight or a note saying to call so and so if needed but I'm not holding my breath. It doesn't help it's the weekend and harder than usual to find a replacement.

I guess my question is, worst case scenario I go into labor at work in the middle of the night with no other nurse on and cannot get anyone to come in to replace me. Would it be patient abandonment if I left under these circumstances? Am I and my license better off if I don't show up in the first place?

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

I would be very surprised if there wasn't some sort of policy in place for when this happens. Going into labor isn't the only thing that would make a nurse need to leave work emergently. I've worked with folks who had an MI at work, someone who had a seizure at work, someone who lost conciousness at work to to hyper-or hypoglycemia, and someone who got shot at work. I've also worked with nurses who were locked in a closet by a drug seeker after their narcotic supply -- leaving the patients all alone until the nursing supervisor showed up several hours later.

The nurse manager (or DON) is responsible for the 24/7 staffing of the unit. That is the person I would call if there is no verifiable plan in place.

And then yes, if it were me, I'd probably call in sick tomorrow night.

Agree with Ruby on this. Call off these shifts. You were not sent the plan, inexcusable.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

That is nuts. Tell them you are on leave as of yesterday. Sheesh.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 44 years experience.

Bypass the scheduler- call the DON and tell him/her no dice.

Thank you all. Sometimes some validation via internet is very nice to have!

To update, last evening I texted the scheduler to ask what this plan was. He said sorry, New Nurse would pick up. I immediately asked if her number was in the phone list since I know that is not updated nearly often enough and she is pretty new. He said it should be.

I get to work and this is one of the first things I check. As I expected, her number is nowhere to be found. I texted him right away to say I needed the number. It wasn't super late- it was before 11 pm. No answer. I also would not be surprised if New Nurse is unaware of this supposed plan and he just figured she'd be forced to do a double if I didn't show- tonight. No apparent plan for if things had gone awry last night.

So I'm pretty furious and had every intention of bringing all of this to the DON and the administrator's attention this morning. I think I am going to sleep first and then call in and be done with the place. It's policy to call the administrator as well as the facility when calling in so I'm debating whether I should just say I'm not feeling well/ might be going into labor, or if I should bring up this other multitude of issues while I'm calling. I have an appointment tomorrow so at that point I know my clinic would be more than happy to write me a note saying I can no longer work.

In the end, still probably not going into labor anytime particularly soon, but it's not worth risking my health, my baby's, or my license for this place that is so clearly not willing to work with me on this. At least this makes my decision not to go back pretty easy I could go on and on and on about how this facility is an imploding hot mess but this is the last straw for sure.


Specializes in ER, Med-surg.

The fact that they clearly have no plan for this rare totally foreseeable emergency tells you what a nightmare this place would be to work for in an unforeseeable emergency, and how little they care about either staff or patient safety.

I would definitely call in for the rest of your shifts, and I probably wouldn't ever go back.


Specializes in Long Term Care, Expert Witness. Has 40 years experience.

If you go into labor in the middle of the night with no instructions on which nurse to call, I would call the DON. It is her/his ultimate responsibility to assure the facility is staffed. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten called as a DON to come into work on the night shift because some agency nurse didn't show up or there was a call off and nobody wanted to work. It is your DON's responsibility. I'd have the conversation with her first since you seem to have gotten nowhere with the schedule.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Yup. Call off. That is ridiculous.


Specializes in LTC.

To all those who commented re the DON's 24 hr responsibility - oh, yeah. DON (scheduler, Admin) not answering the phone/text herself!!! So what now!

To OP - just be finished with them!!! And be very CLEAR when you communicate with them that you will not be going in just to be 'nice nice'. They'll prob be assuming you'll show up. (Save any text communications, just in case.) At this time (or your conference), only address the pregnancy LOA issue. Not the time to 'muddy up' the waters for your LOA. Sadly, I have seen administrations become very vindictive and I wouldn't put it past them to 'not play nice'.

And at the start of the shift preceding yours, be courteous and give that shift the 'heads up' that you will NOT be showing up! It's not the early shift's fault that you're being manipulated. I'm guessing they'll work REAL FAST to get coverage!

Good luck for your impending new mommyhood!

I meant to update this thread and didn't get around to it.

The plot thickens. I did call in the next day (I think?). The nurse that would have supposedly taken my shift answered the phone. I told her I wouldn't be coming in that night and she said something about trying to get it covered, so I asked her if it was true that she would have taken my shift. She said she would have the night I worked (when I didn't even have her phone number) but not that night. So that night was totally uncovered as I got further past my due date. So saying that things were fine and it was covered was a total lie. Maaaybe a miscommunication at best, but probably a lie. I didn't end up saying anything about that yet because I want to make sure I get my PTO and a decent reference, but this is totally inexcusable in my mind. I left a message with the administrator saying I was calling in and that I had other concerns, and if she'd like to talk to me about them to call me back. She never did.

I ended up having an appointment on the 5th and asked for a note to get me out of work. I emailed that to HR, no response. Then I failed my NST and BPP so I headed to the hospital for an induction. Baby girl is two weeks old today and I will be looking for another job for when I'm ready to work again! At the very least I'll request a different facility that's closer to home, but really I want nothing to do with this shady company.

Now I went to check my pay stubs and I still have all my PTO sitting there, not paid out at all, including the shifts I missed before having my baby despite all the requests and promises and doctor's notes. Sigh.


Specializes in ER, Med-surg.

Sorry about the PTO (though not shocked that such a shady company would try to stiff you on your earned benefits) but congratulations on your baby and getting out of that place!


Specializes in LTC.

I don't know how your separation will be classified by your employer. If they claim that YOU abandoned your job, you may have a fight ahead. You've only been there 6 months or so. Some places do not grant PTO until AFTER 1 year; altho you continue to earn it, you're just not able to use it until after that year benchmark (check your employee handbook if you have one).

It may be that you might still be eligible for your PTO. Try a phone call to your state Dept of Labor for some info.

Congrats on the new baby!


Specializes in ER, Med-surg.

A full year to use PTO? I've never heard of that- isn't it usually just till the probationary period is over?

How many people can go a full year without being sick, having a personal or family medical appointment, going on vacation, or being called off?


Specializes in LTC.

Sorry - let me explain. Sick time was usually granted as it was needed (if time was already EARNED). But at SOME places, the ability to take vaca time was AFTER one year (some places, not all, did allow it after 6 months).

I've worked places that were not too gracious or generous when the need for an employee to take emergency time off arose. It would be off WITHOUT pay. Anything other than personal sick time use usually required some advanced notice request time which may or may not be approved.

One was expected to use regular days off to schedule a doc appt (for self or fam) or car repair, etc.

The State of NJ Civil Service employee sector had 3 EMERGENCY days in their contract. They were intended for the emergent/STAT need type things. You could call in for that EMERGENCY day and no one could press you for info or give you a hard time. It was one of the NICEST benes of working Civil Service.

Edited by amoLucia
eta, sp