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Does my nurse manager's bad behavior violate any board regulations?

Wednesday June 6, 2012
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Dear Nancy,

I was taking care of a patient when a nurse manager came in and screamed at me. The patient was very upset and told me she was reporting her. The manager then walked to the nurseís desk and slammed a snack down, which caused it to fly everywhere. There were many witnesses, and we all were shocked. Does this behavior violate any nursing board regulations?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Yvette,

At the very least, it sounds as though your nurse manager needs to improve her anger management skills. Also, her conduct is unprofessional and verbally abusive. It is unclear to whom the patient will report this incident, but even if it is only to the CNO of the facility, that is a start and may result in this person changing her ways. Customer satisfaction is very important in healthcare facilities, so the patientís report should yield results.

Insofar as a board of nursing violation, you can begin to evaluate this option for yourself and your nurse colleagues by reviewing the state nurse practice act and its rules. Because many acts and rules define unprofessional conduct as a violation and define what unprofessional conduct is, this may be a grounds upon which to report the nurse manager to the board.

Other questions come up as well. Is the nurse manager not well, either physically or emotionally? Is she on medication, prescribed or not, that is causing this kind of behavior? Is she experiencing a personal crisis, such as divorce or loss of a parent?

It is not your job to fit the nurse manager's conduct into a category. Clearly, any reporting to the board of nursing must be in good faith and based on factual information. Once the board receives a complaint, it will investigate the situation and make a determination about whether a violation has occurred.

You may want to seek a resource or two to help you decide whether or not to report the nurse manager to the board. A nurse attorney or attorney in your state who works in regulatory law is one such resource. Another good resource would be a nurse not involved with this nurse manager and who can give you sound advice and his or her thoughts on the situation.

Reporting this conduct within your institution pursuant to adopted policies and procedures for unacceptable employee conduct is also an option. This does not need to be in place of reporting to the board, but it can be just another avenue to pursue.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.