In the past few years, I have noticed that many of my clients who are nurses are complaining more and more of unsafe levels of staffing at the hospitals and nursing homes where they work. Just this past month, I spoke to three nurses who were terminated from their jobs after being accused of neglecting their duties. In all three of these situations, the hospital or nursing home was severely understaffed. This resulted in the nurses not being able to fulfill their duties for the shift. In all three situations, the nursing home or hospital would not allow the nurse to work overtime to finish the duties. I was glad to read that this past summer, Pennsylvania House Resolution 920 was introduced by Representative Gingrich and was passed by the House Human Services Committee. This Resolution directs the Joint State Government Commission to study nurse staffing levels and has been referred to the House Floor for consideration by all 203 State Representatives. If you work at a facility that is understaffed, it is important that you document your complaints. Working in an understaffed environment increases the stress you are under and significantly increases the chance of a nurse making an error during his or her shift.
If you are accused of neglect or improper conduct at work, call my office immediately to discuss your options. You should not give a statement to your employer until you have consulted with an attorney who understands your rights and obligations under Pa. Nursing Law.