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I question the practices, patient safety and ethics of the physician that I work for. What can I do?

Monday April 1, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am newly employed at an outpatient cardiology practice of a large hospital. I question the practices, patient safety and ethics of the physician that I work for. I cover myself with accurate documentation. I need my job, but I have been looking elsewhere. What can I do?

Ethical Concerns

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Ethical Concerns,

Accurate documentation will not cover you if you are witnessing and privy to illegal, unethical or incompetent practice and turn a blind eye. Although I am not an attorney, I do know that one can be held liable and complicit if they know of certain activity or practice that shouldn't be happening but go along with it even if they don't directly participate. No job is worth that. Depending on what you are witnessing or aware of, you may even have a legal obligation to report it.

Perhaps you can ask your nursing supervisor a few questions, without making accusations, related to your concerns to get some clarification. Sometimes things are not as they seem. If you know other nurses working in an ambulatory care setting, you can ask them, confidentially, about the situation to see if your concerns seem warranted. If you don't know any such nurses, you can and should attend local chapter meetings of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (www.aaacn.org), as a guest for now if you are not a member. Networking also is a great way to find a job.

It is good that you are looking for another position if you are not comfortable in this one. Be sure you are actively networking. In the interim you may want to meet with a nurse attorney to discuss what's going on in the practice and see what advice can be provided.

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.