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I have concerns about my responsibility in a situation with a co-worker who has been involved in several incidents. Any advice for me?

Thursday January 3, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have a co-worker who was terminated because of several documented incidents. She has the union working on her behalf to get her reinstated, and it looks like they will succeed. There had been stipulations that she would have to pass a math test, which she has failed three times. I occasionally have charge responsibilities and would like to know what can I do to protect myself from being involved in any further incidents should she make future errors.

Wants to Protect Herself

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Protect Herself,

What you can do, should she be reinstated, is to follow all facility and unit policies about reporting and writing up incidents if they happen, instituting disciplinary actions as needed if you are the charge nurse, and keeping detailed notes for yourself about any related incidents or observations and your own actions in reporting/noting it, if applicable.

If she is reinstated and you observe behavior or other acts that are of concern while you are not in charge, report these to your immediate supervisor and keep notes about what action you took and the response you got.

If you have serious concerns about her ability to do her job safely and competently, or concerns about her reinstatement that your manager or employer does not adequately address, then you might consider reporting those issues to the state board of nursing.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.