Reply To: Nurse Discipline

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It is not a HIPPA violation because it is just between a nurse and a supervisor and no patient is involved. Even if the discipline was about a specific patient issue, it would not be a HIPPA violation because the Nursing Supervisor has the right to know the details about a specific patient’s care enough to manage her nurses.

I would say it is correct, and wise, for both parties to want a witness during a disciplinary action. It protects both parties and provides a witness who can say what was really said, as opposed to the distortions that will come after things get heated up. The employee should request a Union Representative or some other trusted staff member to be the witness, while the House Supervisor should pick the nurses manager, charge nurse, or some other authoritative figure to be the witness (so there very well should be two witnesses.) If it is just a verbal wrist slap, the need for this many witnesses may not be there, but it doesn’t hurt to have a neutral third party there to clarify what really was said if it becomes an issue down the road.

As a charge nurse, I tend not to have a witness with me when I correct someone, because I want them to save face and I don’t want it to go anywhere besides between the two of us. As a general rule, if there is going to be fall out or follow up with the discipline, it helps to have a witness. If there is going to be signing of papers or an official reprimand, then the employee should request a witness.

Personally, I wouldn’t call another floor nurse to reprimand another floor nurse if I were the House Supervisor, unless it was over something I was going to be reporting to my boss or the employee’s boss, or if the employee did not take the correction in stride and developed an attitude, at which point I would end the conversation and come back with a witness who would hopefully help things stay more calm.

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