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Toni Talks about PT Today

'I Am a Troublemaker'

Published May 14, 2013 9:05 AM by Toni Patt

Last week I described being warned not to make trouble by reporting the nurses watching the baby camera while at work. I've been thinking about that. Why would I be the troublemaker for reporting someone else doing something wrong? Shouldn't it be the other way around? You would think the person bringing it to attention would be thanked.

I worked at one SNF where I was considered a bad employee for complaining the CNAs weren't cleaning residents regularly or getting them out of bed. I was told to leave it alone. They were overworked and couldn't be expected to do everything. I was fired for reporting someone to the state board for consistently not writing notes. I've since found out he was the best friend of the owner of the company that fired me. I earned the wrath of the emperor's flunky in the evil empire (a former place of employment) for daring to report dangerous behavior with ICU patients of another therapist.

In each case, the problem I reported directly affected safety and care of patients. Across the board the reaction was the same. Leave it alone. If I didn't leave it alone, that would require someone higher up the ladder to take some action. It would mean changing an established practice or creating conflict with an employee. It would take someone's time and effort to ensure the CNAs were performing their job duties as required. In simpler terms, it would be inconvenient to make changes.

It's sad that in today's healthcare, inconvenience dictates how problems are solved. Solving problems takes time no one has to spare. It's easier to let things slide or take some token action because it requires less time. Nothing will change because the guilty know there will be no follow-through. The last thing a manager or supervisor wants is someone complaining and demanding action be taken.

It's easier to silence the complaint than fix the problem. After a while, no one complains. They recognize that not only will the situation not change, but the person who complained becomes the problem. This creates an ongoing cycle of frustration. I know how it feels to have a target on my back. I just didn't know it was there at the time. I'm sure I'm not alone. Ultimately the ones who suffer the most are our patients. Unless they have a family member or other advocate present, care can be less than stellar.

So I complain. I'm getting used to the fallout from creating conflict. I continue to hope that causing some changes to be made will ultimately improve the facility as a whole. I don't think anyone else will say anything.

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2 comments

Similar to you I have reported unethical behavior at one place and was told that all I do is look for opportunities to complain.  Higher up refused to make a move to eliminate the root cause of the problem so I had to leave.  

I brought the situation to light, informed the director, and was brave enough to e-mail the president of the company.  (I was verbally reprimanded for the e-mail by my director)  After months of inaction, incomplete documentation, and multiple meetings there was a mutual parting without fanfare.  I was relieved and I am sure they were too.  

Jason Marketti May 15, 2013 12:16 AM

It is one's professional responsibility to report any behavior that is unethical or is placing the safety of a patient at risk.  One should also speak up if a fellow clinician is not following best practice, if they are not providing standard of care, or following policies and procedures.  I am sure that a P&P exists at the SNF that you once worked at that described how often a patient should be bathed, etc - if that is not being followed then you were right to report.  I think a greater offense is if whoever you reported it to did not take the proper steps to correct it or pass it on to someone who could.  As a supervisor of my department I welcome feedback from my staff and I take it seriously, especially if it is an issue of patient safety.

Dan May 14, 2013 9:22 PM
FL

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