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A medical provider in my facility wrote inaccurate derogatory information about me in a patient's chart. What are my options?

Monday August 12, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I discovered that a medical provider in my facility wrote derogatory information about me in a patient's chart, identifying me by name. In the same progress note, the provider did not accurately depict the timeline of events leading up to the incident and accused me of not notifying him of the situation. Actually, I had received his approval and wrote a verbal order based on that. I hesitate to accuse someone of lying, but I do not want my integrity questioned. I know what happened and have witnesses who heard me ask for the order and can testify that the documentation regarding the timeline is false. What are my options?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Joseph,

The first step would be to review the options available to you within your facility. Depending on what the note that contains the false information includes, you may be able to confidentially report this to your compliance officer, your chief nursing officer or to another identified individual within the facility. This person then can handle it with the head of the department or service in which this provider works and must comply with facility policies and procedures and clinical privileges.

You also may need to report this conduct outside the facility, for example, to a particular regulatory board or boards. A nurse attorney or attorney with whom you consult can evaluate that need for you.

You did not specify what derogatory information about you was placed in the note, but if it is untrue and damages your professional reputation, a suit for defamation may be possible. Again, your attorney can discuss this with you.

Be certain that the witnesses you have are willing and able to speak on your behalf. Often, when something of this nature occurs in the employment setting, employee witnesses who, at first, are willing to speak on another's behalf become hesitant to get involved for fear of losing their jobs.


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.