Disciplined For Doing The Right Thing

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about reporting wrong:

I am a nurse and recently I brought it to my superior’s attention that some nurses were not giving medications. I had physical proof to show them. Nothing was said in the hallways, but in the office of my supervisor. However, today I got written up because somehow it got around to the other nurses that I had found these errors. And supposedly, my supervisors had to take action because it was numerous nurses. However, when asked who, they rushed to name my accusers. Can this be right? Being written up for hearsay? They have no proof that I was talking in the halls, which I wasn’t. And they did nothing to the nurses that they had proof that were not doing their jobs. Why me?

Signed, Whistle Blower

Dear Whistle Blower:

I’m sorry to not be able to help you very well on this question because I don’t understand exactly what happened. Perhaps you can send us another note that clarifies the issue. In the meantime I’ll do my best to respond to what seems likely, based on what I could understand. I understand that you reported other nurses for not giving medication. That could take someone’s life, so that is a very serious matter. The thing I’m not clear about is why would you be written up for talking in the halls and what do you mean by saying, “When asked who, they rushed to name my accusers”?

I assume you are being accused of talking about hospital trouble where others could hear you. This seems fairly simple to clear up, if you have an HR section and if anyone in your group will tell the truth. Write a statement that says what happened, exactly. State who was present when you reported the nurses and what proof you had. Then, say that as the result of being a whistle blower about wrong-doing, you were sanctioned for something you didn’t do. Ask for a complete investigation of your situation and the complaint you made. Word it just that way: “I am asking that this matter be investigated so the unsafe behavior of those who didn’t give medication is stopped and so I can have the untrue write-up taken from my record.”If you really do have proof of wrongdoing–and it sounds like you are alleging very, very serious wrongdoing, the hospital will want to know about it. If the person you were talking to will verify that you were not in the hallway, that should take care of the problem about that.If, on the other hand, you don’t have proof of wrongdoing and there was something you did that you know to be a problem, you probably will not want HR to look into this more. So, it’s up to you about that.

My experience has been that often in these kind of situations there is much more going on than what we hear at first. I can’t help but think that is true in this case. Few nursing supervisors would ignore proof of something as serious as you describe. But, if they do and if even going to HR won’t help, you need to go to the Board of Directors. Someone will listen to you, if you have proof or strong indicators of what you are alleging.If I haven’t understood your question, please write back to clarify the situation. Or, if you have the time and wish to do so, we’d like to hear how this turns out when you push back and ask for an investigation.Best wishes to you with this challenging situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.