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What should I say about getting fired for family complaints?

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sissonrn sissonrn (New) New

The hospital fired me for complaints from family. They never got my side of the story first, they automatically wrote me up as they have with other employees. I even had the charge nurse back me up about an unreasonable family member that complained about both of us, but they fired me anyway even though she talked to the director about this person. I worked as a critical care nurse for 14 years, received many thanks from pts and families for the care I provided & got along with all my coworkers and doctors. I've had to deal with difficult families that claimed I said or did things I did not say or do, ie "their word against mine" situations. What should I say to a prospective interviewer about getting fired for complaints from family? Has anyone else been fired for the same reason?

This happens frequently in extended care home health and is considered to be par for the course. The employing agency usually will do nothing to back up their employee who may, or may not, be provided with a new assignment. Would think that in a facility setting the individual employee would be getting more support than what you mention. Sorry to hear this happened to you.

Do you have to say you were fired?

If it's something you have to explain, I think the nature of the complaint is relevant. If it's a communication/personality type complaint I think you could focus on what your learned about improving patient and family relations. If it was a complaint about patient care/practice, I'm not sure how to go about that.

The one thing I would wonder about is how could you be fired over one compliant in the hospital setting. It would be hard not to imagine a pattern or one doozy of an accusation.

It really doesn't matter what line of work you are in, saying that you were fired is a bad idea. Always go with the "don't ask, don't tell policy". Just because you were fired, doesn't mean that you aren't entitled to ever hold a job again. It's a personal choice, but I say what happens between you and your previous employer is between you and them.

You mention that you are a 14 year nurse. In this same facility?

Bottom line--They can hire 3 nurses for the wage that they are paying you--as a specialty nurse with 14 years of experience. So usually, management will find some sort of something to immediately let you go for. Plus, the 3 nurses that they can hire to take your place can be well trained to use "key terms" and scripting, run around appeasing patients and families--new nurses have no point of reference, therefore, do what they are told to do--which has little to do with practice, and everything to do with "customer service".

Unfortunately, it is not about skilled specialty care of patients. It is about dollars, reimbursements and scores on surveys.

I am sorry that this happened to you. I would certainly contact my malpractice insurance, speak to a union rep.--you need to preserve your right to seek unemployment, you need to get whatever benefits you have coming (ie: un-used PTO) that type of thing.

Finding ways to pick off the most seasoned nurses is not a new thing, and most managers will be in tune to that moving forward. You may find, however, that your pay will decrease significantly. As a complete aside, it just stinks that nurses with such a long history of quality care in such a complex specialty as critical care are pushed aside to be replaced by inexperienced, sometimes moonbat nuts nurses.

But Op, remember, you may or may not have been firm with a family, but that patient was given the best foot forward for function as feasible. Like any 14 year veteran of critical care would do.

Let us know how it goes.

Gooselady, BSN, RN

Has 23 years experience.

I worked with a nurse who had some weird misunderstanding with the wife of one of our frequent flyers (an oncology unit) for chemo. It got blown way up, and she had to go to HR with the manager over it. Frankly I didn't want to know why, you never hear the whole story anyway. But I remember how terrified this nurse was that she would be canned over it. The nursing culture in that hospital was very lenient and nurse centered, but even so, when the rubber hits the road, we are held responsible for 'customer service' which translates into 'the customer is always right'.

It put me on my toes, let something similar happen to me. I'm pretty easy going, but still. Often the first time you realize you've had a complaint is from your manager. The nurse above was shocked, she herself didn't know there was a conflict in the first place, the patient's wife didn't confront her or argue with her at all.

I agree with the others, no need to tell on yourself. If you have professional references, use those. Anymore, when you call HR you find out the person was 'terminated' whether they resigned or were fired. Some states have very strict human resource laws about what the previous employer can disclose. One of my previous bosses only said "Yes she worked here between such and such dates" and nothing else! He wouldn't talk to them, I had to call an HR lady I knew well and have her send me copies of my four years of evaluations lol. This previous boss was a stickler for HR rules, perhaps he'd been burned before? Hard to say.

That said it's worthwhile to learn every way possible to avoid triggering trigger happy people. For your own sake. An outspoken person is more likely to get it than a quiet one, so it pays to go self-preservation all the way. It's not worth doing otherwise, as you can well say :( Best of luck, you'll get snapped right up, I'm sure.

Most hospitals have an "at will" policy to where they do not have to give you a reason for firing. Any reason will do. I had a family member threaten to sue over a perceived error on my part and out the door I went. This patient was on probably 20 meds and the doctor had changed some of them. I went over each of them with the spouse and the wife. I instructed the family to take all of his home meds to the pharmacy where he got them filled and have the pharmacist go through them and pick out the ones that had changed. I did NOT document this instruction. He goes home, his wife does not follow through and he comes back to the hospital and I went bye bye. No listening to my side of the story. I went to work, worked my 8 hour shift in charge and at 4 :00 they gave me my papers. I think part of it was also due to my involvement in trying to unionize the RNs. I loved my job there, gave inservices, nursing grand rounds, many things over and above. Had excellent evaluations. I have not felt the same or had the same zeal since. This was over 20 years ago.