How to Respond When a Nursing Issue Goes Wrong

Everyday nurses are faced with countless decisions while on the job.  Although safety nets are put in place and procedure developed, they don’t account for every situation a nurse will face when caring for patients.  Although decisions are made with the best intentions due to education and experience, sometimes things do go wrong.

In an ideal world, nurses should be able to lean on their managers, colleagues, and physicians when issues happen. However, in many cases nurses have found that these colleagues will disassociate themselves and even single the employee out for blame, even when it’s far from the truth of where the blame actually lies. So what do you do when the people with whom you’ve worked with and trusted are reluctant to step up in your defense?

Do you go to Human Resources?

Unfortunately studies have shown that many nurses did not find it productive to go to an administrator or employee assistance department.  Because these people work in the same place you do and don’t want to rock the boat, they’re less likely to take you seriously.  Some would even rather see you gone than investigate the issue.  Managers are less likely to back you up since any discord in their unit is a reflection upon them and can delay their climb up the ladder.

What if a patient is in danger due to the situation?

If a patient is put in danger due to a situation that happens, you have an moral responsibility and professional obligation to report the facts to the appropriate agencies such as Medicare or your state licensing department.  Even if your employer fails to investigate, you must still report.  Patients also have the right to report and more of them are doing so. Therefore, by trying to sweep the issue under the rug, you will just end up hurting your career even more.

Who else can you talk to?

Because nursing is such a specialized field, friends and family members often won’t be able to provide support, since they won’t truly understand the situation.  Instead, find someone else in your field that has no relationship to your institution to speak to.  A doctor or nurse friend who has no association with your employer, but a high level of integrity is often your best bet.  Try finding a lawyer that was previously an RN, that way if you need legal recourse, you’ll already have an advocate at hand.

Be wary of social media.

Don’t explicitly talk about the situation on your social media or blog feeds.  Anything you say or sign can be used against you.

Keep your head up and continue to do your job proudly.  You know that you had the best intentions with both the patient and yourself.  You are a professional and handled the situation to the best of your ability and made your decisions based off the training you’ve been given.

Looking for a new job in the medical industry?

Team up with BOS Medical to find just the right job opportunity—whether you’re looking for long- or short-term employment, we have a variety of nursing positions in Athens, GA, Gainesville, GA, and beyond.  Contact a recruiter today and you’ll be onto your next job in no time.


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