In the provided scenario, I am one of three nurse aides (NAs) assigned to a long-term care unit with thirty-five residents and staffed with two registered nurses (RNs). I was instructed to cover the registered nurses’ (RN) patients while they distribute morning medications with my co-worker, Linda Evans. However, Linda is chronically five-to-ten minutes late to her shifts, and this time I witness her ignoring Mr. Daniel’s switched-on call light since she is “too busy to stop and answer” and he is “not [her] patient.” It is my ethical and legal responsibility to report this incident to the charge nurse and Linda’s supervisor in this situation.
Firstly, I must take responsibility and report Linda’s actions since she provided Mr. Daniel with substandard, disrespectful, unsafe care that ultimately puts all the patients at risk. We were instructed to cover the RN’s patients, and Linda blatantly disregarded these orders and potentially jeopardized Mr. Daniel’s health. Additionally, her busyness might have been influenced by her chronic lateness that she has not taken any steps to reform. Even if that were not the case, an NA is obligated to provide care to all residents in need regardless of whether they are on the assignment sheet. If Linda was willing to ignore a switched-on call light once, she might have done so before and might do it again, which compromises the care of all the patients.
Secondly, Linda undermined the structural functioning and philosophy of the long-term care unit. NAs should not act as individuals fulfilling personal goals but as part of a team of health professionals working closely together to help all the residents recover. Similar to every other NA, all the unit’s patients can be considered Linda’s—she was assigned specific residents to maintain the unit’s smooth operation, but she is obligated to respond to everyone in need. If Linda cannot be a team player and help other NA’s residents, she is disrupting the integrity of the team and adding unnecessary stress to the rest of the team members. Her actions may lead to a negative outcome and a malpractice suit for the care unit. The mood in the workplace will be resentful and all workers will be annoyed by her inability to understand teamwork.
If I approach Linda directly to discuss the issue, I believe she will not respond adequately and will instead dismiss my concerns as irrelevant. Her chronic lateness and attitude to Mr. Daniels display her disrespect for the patients and her responsibilities as an NA, and it is unlikely that she would listen to me. Therefore, it is my ethical responsibility to report the incident to the charge nurse directly and file a written report so her actions are documented, and formal disciplinary action can be instigated (Hedman, 2018). Furthermore, I will approach Linda’s supervisor since her active neglect can lead to malpractice. If the charge nurse and supervisor do not resolve the issue, I will continue reporting up the chain of command until there is an appropriate response to a blatant ethics violation.
In conclusion, my ethical and legal responsibility is to report Linda’s active neglect of Mr. Daniel’s call light since she put all the patients at risk and compromised the long-term care unit’s mission. An NA is obligated to answer a resident’s call for help even if they are not on the NA’s assignment sheet. The unit’s functioning depends on health professionals working as a cohesive team to help all the patients recover, and Linda is not fulfilling her part. I will report the incident directly to the charge nurse and Linda’s supervisor so proper disciplinary action can be taken.
Hedman S. A. (2018). Hartman’s nursing assistant care: Long-term care (4th ed.). Hartman Publishing.