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Legal Speak

Building Trust

Published August 4, 2011 9:53 AM by Tony DeWitt

Those of us who are old enough to remember Ronald Reagan, perhaps the greatest president of the 20th Century (and this comes from the mouth of a liberal Democrat, mind you) remember that when it came to dealing with the Russians, he wasn't taking anyone's assurances, but rather, insisted on verifying destruction of things like nuclear weapons. Reagan quoted a famous Russian proverb: trust but verify. It was good advice in the 1980s, and it's good advice today.

Trust between co-workers is vital to the function of any business. Where workers do not trust one another, the person that ultimately suffers is the customer. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of health care. If nurses are busy watching their behinds, they don't have the time they need to take care of patients.

Frequently nurses will cover for one another with things that, at the time, don't seem important. "Will you sign off the Decadron on the MAR for me," a nurse asks. The other nurse assures that she will, but then forgets. Who is at fault when the chart is audited? The person who gave the medication is at fault. Asking someone to sign off a medication does not relieve you of the responsibility to make sure that they did.

Trust is also important between aides and other caregivers who do not have a nursing license. The nurse must be able to trust, for example, that when an aide says she gave a bath, that a bath was indeed given. Unfortunately, however, sometimes aides get pulled by other nurses, don't get around to what they were assigned to do, and a nurse makes the assumption that because they have always done what they were told, that they did what they were told in this case. This is the kind of thing that leads to employee discipline, professional misconduct allegations, and ultimately, to lawsuits.

No matter how great an aide or co-worker is about following direction, it is always a good idea to follow behind, and to let the worker know you followed behind. "Mrs. Clark said you were very gentle with her bath when I talked to her." 

Or, when the patient is demented, "Mr. Jones looked clean and fresh when I checked in on him tonight." Letting co-workers know you check up insures two things: (1) the co-worker will be disinclined to lie about having done something they did not do; and (2) in those situations where a co-worker fails to perform a task, it gives you an opportunity to address the issue before it becomes a sticking point with the patient or a visitor.

Trust, but verify. Not as eloquent as "let's win one for the gipper," but surely more relevant to nursing work.

posted by Tony DeWitt
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1 comments

Irinushka!Prosto spasibo! Strannim obozram segodnja vo sne 4itala pismo ot tebja, soderzanija kotorogo polnostju ne pomnju. No 4to-to o lozno vibrannom puti ili o nepravilnom podhode. I ja prosnulas s voprosom, 4to ze dalse...A sei4as pro4itala tvoju statju i kak-to projasnilos vsje v abrozovom svetebb:).

Schnuckel Schnuckel, BjsYqZaG - kNSUkfBXxLXjltVF, GECFfiSGFHkFoyJX June 11, 2012 12:08 PM
JWlAhDwoc DE

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About this Blog


    A.L. "Tony" DeWitt, RRT, CRT, JD, FAARC
    Occupation: Attorney
    Setting: Jefferson City, Mo.
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