What happens when patients make false accusations of abuse against nurses??


Is there anything that can protect nurse's from false accusations of abuse from patients? I am not a nurse yet (start nursing program in Jan) but this is something I think about and it gives me anxiety. I would hate to lose my license over something I didn't do

allnurses Guide

Hygiene Queen

2,232 Posts

Chart chart and chart!

If you are in a situation that gives you any niggling of doubt as to whether or not it's going to come down to "he said-she said", chart everything.

We sometimes get patients who have a history of false accusations and lawsuits.

We tread very lightly.

We use each other as witnesses in our interactions with these patients... and we chart.

Usually, there is some indication in the patient's history that the patient is a troublemaker, so complaints may not go very far.

Can you totally forsee these situations all the time?


Fortunately, it doesn't happen all that often.

BrandonLPN, LPN

3,358 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

As hygiene queen said, the pts who make a habit of this are usually well known and no one takes them seriously. LTC is especially known for this. It makes sense when you think about it. These residents are in an utterly powerless, dependent position. The potential to make accusations is really the only form of power they have left. So they seize upon it and accuse every aide who walks past their room of stealing the wadded up two dollars under the pillow. After a while nobody listens to them. It can develop into "the little boy who cried wolf" situations.

As already said, nurses getting into real trouble over this happens less often than you'd think. Any health care professional worth his salt can smell a BS fairy story a mile away. But chart everything to CYA.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

Patients with histories of multiple complaints, accusations, and allegations always receive care with two employees in the room at my workplace.

The presence of two employees in the room totally reduces the likelihood that a false allegation will ever be proved or substantiated because, if one worker is accused wrongly, the other person can vouch for the worker and say, "I was in the room and nothing happened."

nurse2033, MSN, RN

3 Articles; 2,133 Posts

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Being professional and following good nursing practice is your best defense. Don't let your fears get ahead of you, there are many other things to spend your energy on. Good luck.

Specializes in ICU. Has 30 years experience.

With re-imbursement being dependent on "patient satisfaction scores" to a certain extent, my current hospital takes every single complaint seriously, no matter how trivial or ridiculous. I don't know what you mean by "abuse," but my hospital's managers make a big, huge deal out of any complaint, whether you are guilty or not. You can chart meticulously, but when it comes down to your word against the "client's," the client usually wins. I agree it is a good idea to have someone else with you when dealing with known complainers, but that is not always possible. (We have to enter a patient's room every hour and document on a sheet in the room that we did, and finding someone to go with you every hour is a challenge.) Once upon a time, you could usually recognize bogus abuse complaints, but now every complaint is "valid."