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I’m a nursing supervisor who allowed a nurse, who was ill, to go to the ED. I was told I overstepped my bounds. Is this true?


Dear Nancy,

I requested a staff member assist a fellow nurse obtain her blood pressure. This nurse complained of a headache, blurred vision and nausea. Her blood pressure was 232/130, so I allowed her to go to the ED. A fellow nursing supervisor told me I overstepped my bounds. If I would have allowed her to continue to work knowing the condition the nurse was in, I felt it would have been negligence on my part — a risk to the staff nurse, patients under her care, other staff members, myself and the institution.


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Amy,

It’s unfortunate when a nurse shows compassion and concern for a fellow nurse colleague and the response is not the one hoped for. The fellow supervisor’s reaction seems like the result of an “I’m in charge, not you” response, but most likely it was because the policy about such matters was not followed and he/she will have to answer to that breach of policy.

In the future, your concern for another staff member’s well-being should not be ignored. Check with the policy in your institution. Most likely, such decisions need to be made by a specific supervisor or another in the administrative hierarchy, in the absence of an emergency. Notifying that individual as soon as possible and allowing them to make the decision is consistent with policy and does not place you in harm’s way.

You did not mention you received any discipline for your decision. That is a positive end result.

You should be commended for being concerned for your fellow staff member and the patients for whom she was assigned.



About Author

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.

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