January, 2012 Archive

January 31, 2012, 5:42 pm

Banner Health, Arizona Board of Nursing: A Personal Vendetta?

Sorry, no.

This is the problem.

There is a huge injustice being perpetrated against a nurse right this moment.

It’s getting worse.

And the ones who got the party started aren’t happy that it isn’t quiet.

That their moves, and their motives, are under public scrutiny.

That nurses are talking.

Because if you are quiet, it means they’ve got you frightened.

If you are quiet, it’s harder for the next nurse to speak out.

If you are quiet, it is easier to intimidate and retaliate against nurses with impunity.

*****

I received a call from the Arizona Board of Nursing this morning. I am not able to obtain a copy of the Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center complaint against Amanda Trujillo, RN, MSN.

They are able to tell me that a complaint was filed, and what date it was filed, but the actual content of the complaint is confidential. A copy goes to the RN involved.

I appreciated the call, they could easily have sent an email.

That doesn’t mean I won’t see a copy of it, it just means I can’t get a copy from the AZBoN.

*****

Well, it gets worse.

Today, ten months after the original complaint was filed, Amanda was advised that the Arizona Board of Nursing had called her university and reported that she is under investigation. Amanda is studying for her DNP.

Amanda got the email from her university, informing her of what they had been told.

WHAT???

Is it normal for boards of nursing to actively report registered nurses to their universities?

By phone?

While the investigation is still going on?

*****

I talked to a nurse investigator in Nevada, who said absolutely “NO”, they did not report nurses to universities., That until the case is decided, it’s confidential and there is no way of knowing that the nurse was in school or what school she attended.

There has been no disciplinary action against Amanda Trujillo by the Arizona Board of Nursing.

So why are they calling her university?

Why now?

*****

This has gone past a regular investigation of a complaint against the license of a registered nurse and has all the markings of a personal vendetta.

I’m no Morley Safter or Mike Wallace.

This blog isn’t 60 Minutes.

I’m just a blogging staff nurse who is aghast at what she is seeing and I have questions.

Who has ties to the Arizona Board of Nursing? What pull, if any, does Banner Health have with the AZBoN? What pull, if any does the doctor whose public display of rage set all this in motion, have with the Arizona Board of Nursing?

What ties does the Arizona Board of Nursing have with Amanda’s university?

*****

And let’s keep in mind why all this is happening.

A patient received education concerning their condition and upcoming procedure, and a referral for a case management consult for hospice placed at the patient’s request.

No patient was harmed. No patient was killed. No medication given. No procedure done.

A patient was given information.

Informed.

Empowered.

And god help the nurse who had the audacity to facilitate this autonomy, this right.

How can you not be outraged?

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January 29, 2012, 3:03 pm

Mandated by Law, Obligated by Ethics…

I’ve been blogging for 6 1/2 years.

I have a twitter account and although I went to Facebook kicking and screaming, I’m firmly ensconced in the world of status updates, messages, and the occasional “poke.”

I never miss BlogWorld New Media Expo, and if I can make it to BlogHer, I will be at the party (can you say “swag”?)

You might say I’m into social media.

The best thing about social media? It enhances the ability of people to band together, to support causes, and each other.

This week, we’ve seen nurses band together online to support one of our own, fired and in danger of losing her license for acting as a patient advocate and providing patient education.

*****

Patients use social media to band together with others who share the same challenges, to find support and encouragement.

They use the internet and social media to gather information; to be able to decide, in discussions with their healthcare provider, the best treatment to pursue.

The “patient” is you. And me. We are all patients.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge empowers a us to advocate for ourselves.

But what happens when you are sick, lying in a hospital bed with new information flying fast and furious, with no time (or access) to “look it up”. No time to find an “online support group”.

What if the quality of the rest of your life depends on the decision you make with the information you get, now.

Who advocates for you/us then?

*****

The entire healthcare team advocates for you.

Nurses and physicians advocate for you.

They advocate for you by making sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision on any plan of care.

They advocate for you by telling you all of the options open to you, including no treatment.

They advocate for you by making sure you understand all of the information and education provided.

They advocate for you by respecting the fact that you are able to advocate for yourself and respecting the decisions you make.

Doing all these things is the right thing to do.

It’s also the law.

*****

When a nurse assesses that a patient does not have the information needed to make an informed decision about their care, either because they have not been informed, or because they did not understand the information provided, the nurse has a duty to:

a. provide the missing information, or the needed education and/or

b. refer the patient to the appropriate source of information

There is no choice.

It’s not a case of making a note and hoping the next shift deals with it.

It’s not a case of thinking, “oh well, they need this surgery/procedure anyway.”

The nurse is mandated by law, and obligated ethically to act if they discover a patient does not have the information they need to make an informed decision about their care.

*****

Here’s the ethical principle in operation here, as defined by the American Nurses Association, who have a great website on nursing ethics:

Autonomy: agreement to respect another’s right to self-determine a course of action; support of independent decision making.

This is why the firing of Amanda Trujillo, RN, MSN, an experienced transplant RN, by Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center is so mind-boggling.

She was doing exactly what she was supposed to do as a registered nurse, for a patient with a knowledge deficit regarding an upcoming transplant.

*****

For the record, to those who have written to say I don’t have both sides, Banner Health isn’t talking. They made a statement on their Facebook page to that effect.

I have written to the Arizona Board of Nursing for a copy of the original complaint, which should be public record.

I’ll post any response I get from them.

In the meantime, Amanda’s legal response to the original complaint, which answers the complaint point-by-point, can be found at vdutton’s posterous.

I encourage you to read the comments, as there is some interesting dialog there, as well

*****

I am not militant.

I rant now and again, but I am very happy in my corner of the couch with my trusty old MacBookPro.

But I would take to the street for this.

I am that angry.

If I thought for one minute that there was more to this case, I’d be watching from the sidelines,too.

My gut tells me, there is not.

My nursing instinct tells me there is not.

My nursing instinct tells me that a hospital corporation got upset because a “rainmaker” (in the legal world, that means “moneymaker”) got angry at an RN, ergo, she must be punished.

Most hospitals just fire people, Banner Health reports them to the Arizona Board of Nurses.

God help the nurses at Banner Health, because I’d be watching my derriere 24/7 if I worked there.

Corporate healthcare at it’s finest.

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January 28, 2012, 12:03 pm

Everybody Look What’s Goin’ Down…

(ADDENDUM, ADDED FEBRUARY 14, 2012 – When this post was written, I mistakenly thought the patient in question had a transplant operation pending. The patient was actually scheduled to be transferred the next day to begin pre-transplant testing. Surgery would have come at a later date.

I now understand that Amanda assessed that the patient had a deficit of transplant knowledge in general, and provided general transplant teaching concerning the evaluation process, the waiting process, and the care regimen. The patient changed their mind about undergoing the testing, and requested a hospice consult.

So, although the patient did not fully understand, and may not have been “informed” about what the entire transplant process required, surgery was not imminent, and “informed consent” for surgery was not the issue here.

I have a firm belief in not altering a post once it has been posted, and owning the mistakes/misunderstandings therein, so I have added this addendum for clarification.

The issues remain the same – a patient was uninformed about what was happening to them and needed education on their illness, a physician/hospital did not support/respect a patient’s decision/request for information, and a physician behaved in a disruptive fashion.

I apologize for the misunderstanding.)

Sorry, no.

Nurses and physicians share a collaborative relationship, working with the patient in a team effort.

That is how it is supposed to work.

As a nurse, my duty is solely to the patient.

If I am needed to be anyone’s “right hand”, it will be my patient.

I’m very lucky. I work with great docs who get it. I’ll write a post about that.

I’ve seen my share of the temper-tantrum throwing screamers, and I’ve been the recipient of their wrath three or four times in my career.

I should tell those stories; they happened long ago. I’ve kept them off the blog because of the emotions that come flooding back when I think about them.

*****

I’ve been blogging on the Amanda Trujillo situation for a few days now, but lets move away from Amanda being fired by Banner Health and turned in to the Arizona Board of Nursing and look at this from a patient’s point of view.

As I see it, based on information that has been made public or is in the public record, three things occurred or nearly occurred (In hospital terminology, we call those “near-misses.”)

This should make everyone of us queasy.

1. A PATIENT WOULD HAVE HAD SURGERY WITHOUT INFORMED CONSENT.

A patient scheduled for surgery, in this case a major, life-altering surgery, did not know (a) the extent of the surgery, (b) the ramifications of the surgery – this being complex lifetime care, or (c) options other than surgery.

All of the above, along with the risks and benefits of the surgery, constitute “informed consent.” Before any surgery consent can be signed, all of the above must be addressed.

Before the discussion with the nurse, the patient did not know this information.

2. A PATIENT’S DECISION WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE MD, OR THE HOSPITAL

Granted, the surgery did not happen. But instead of supporting the patient’s decision as being the patient’s decision after the patient had been fully informed, as was their right by law, there was anger and recrimination from the physician and the facility.

Why?

Why did a patient’s decision to not have surgery cause this upheaval? Who lost out here?

I’m speculating, but I wonder – how much of that anger did the patient hear, or sense?

3. A PHYSICIAN DISPLAYED DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR AT THE NURSES STATION.

Well, this has been going on from time immemorial, but it is no longer tolerated.

Now, concern over a patient is not disruptive behavior. Anger is not a disruptive behavior. (If it was, I’d be in trouble.) Screaming and throwing a temper-tantrum at a nursing station is, no matter what the reason.

How would you feel as a patient if you heard a screaming rant going on at the nurse’s station outside your door?

How would you feel about the doctors, the facility? The nurses?

*****

Two of these, the informed consent and the disruptive behavior are issues that are covered by licensing bodies. Joint Commission has looked at the impact of disruptive behavior by physicians and other members of the health care team. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services are also concerned with the effect of this behavior of patient safety.

What happened at Banner Health Del E. Webb Medical Center was not innocuous.

If not for the actions of a registered nurse, doing exactly what she was educated to do, and bound by the Arizona Nurse Practice Act (and her ethical duty) to do, a patient would have had a surgery they were not prepared for, and would not have wanted had they known what was happening.

That should scare the hell out of every single one of us.

Because something like this has a chilling effect on all the other RNs in a facility – and I hope that the other registered nurses at Banner Health have the guts to keep educating their patients without the fear of losing their jobs and their licenses for doing their ethical duty.

As a nurse, and as a patient, I am appalled.

Now I want to see exactly what Banner Health, and the Arizona Board of Nurses, are going to do to rectify this situation.

This has huge implications for nurses, and patients.

All of us.

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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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