April 21, 2013 at 3:19 PM #6566
Is it correct for a Nursing Supervisor to call a floor Nurse as a witness when disciplining anothere floor Nurse? Is it part of HIPPA violation or only patients deals with HIPPA?April 21, 2013 at 5:29 PM #6567
Jason Hautala RNMember
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.April 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM #6571
As a supervisor, I would not ever, initially bring in another peer. If in fact there is a need for disciplinary action, asking a peer to be involved would be poor practice and would likely make the floor nurse feel diminished. If there is another RN who is directly involved in an incident, of course include them.
There are many ways to handle this. If you are a manager and your staff respects and trusts you, there should be little problem having a dialogue with a staff nurse.
When the situation calls for a third party, you can ask another floor manager, an HR person, a liaison…lots of people who can be an objective third party.April 22, 2013 at 4:29 PM #6572
Jason Hautala RNMember
Kari: you make a good point, but I think the most important thing to consider here is who the employee who is getting reprimanded wants as a witness. It’s well and good having someone else from the admin team there, but for the employees sake, I would encourage them to bring someone they trust, as opposed to someone who gets paid to tow the company line, such as a union rep, co-worker, or in my case, I actually had a House Supervisor that I trusted go, as neither party would ever question what she said was the truth.
Initially keep it private, but if things become serious, each side should have a witness.
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