The blame game

finger-pointingThe healthcare team consists of many different disciplines, e.g. PT, OT, speech therapy, medical, dietary, and social work, just to name a few.

When working, the healthcare team functions like a well-oiled machine; however, when something goes wrong, the machine breaks down and the blame game begins.

I don’t know why, but nursing usually gets blamed for the majority of mistakes in healthcare, even when we’re put in an unwinnable position.

Example 1

I once had an unsteady asymmetrical post-CVA patient. This patient was extremely impulsive, lacked judgment, and clearly couldn’t ambulate without assistance.  Instead of ordering a vail bed, which is technically a restraint, the physician ordered him up adlib, which was logically unsound.

We were, as usual, overstretched; we couldn’t provide the patient with 24/7 bedside supervision, which was needed.

As you probably already guessed, it didn’t take long for the patient to hit the floor and get injured.  After the fall, we, the nurses, were blamed, which was totally ridiculous.  And, of course, we cleaned up the mess and took the fall, even when we were set up to fail from the outset.

Example 2

I had a patient who expected to be discharged. The day before his/her discharge, the discharging physician told him/her that they could expect to be discharged by 0900.  Well, to make a long-story short, I had multiple discharges and admissions. I couldn’t pass my morning medications, assess patients, and discharge him/her by 0900; it was impossible.

When the patient complained and called the patient advocate, we, the nurses, took the fall again, not the physician.


We all make mistakes; after all, they are an integral part of learning.  Aside from nursing, most members of the healthcare team aren’t held accountable, and thus can’t learn from their mistakes, even when they’re elementary.

Management is Reactive, not Proactive

We’re reactionary, it’s human nature.  Nevertheless, it’s wise to learn from our mistakes, rather than repeat them, blame, and create some arbitrary impractical policy further bogging us down.

Instead of thinking proactively and educating all members of the healthcare team, management usually points the finger at us, pretending we’re solely responsible for everything, moving us like pawns in a chess match.

I don’t have the answers, nor do I possess the wisdom to end the blame game, but I do know this: the classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


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