By John Kauchick, RN BSN
(EDITOR’S COMMENT: Is our discontent merely simmering, as an elite member of our profession writes below, or is it boiling over? You decide! Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Here is the story of one nurse’s attempt to bring the subject of wrongful termination and employer accountability for same to the awareness of major nursing organizations in the United States.)
This past year has been called “the year of ethics.” I decided to see how serious various professional nursing organizations and ethics institutes were going to put words into action.
From August of 2014 through May of 2015 I wrote to the elite experts within and outside these organizations. None responded. The common thread to not getting responses seemed to be my mention of wrongful termination.
A few weeks ago, I tried writing again with the preface that, considering the paper trail of unanswered emails, the recipients failing to to respond will be subject to answering questions as to why they didn’t respond. Finally, one top nursing ethics expert responded:
“Thanks for your information. Wrongful termination is a legal concept. Some of what you express is ethical behavior that perhaps underlies these issues. — continues to move forward and look at ethical climate where nurses work. This was a focus of —.
Our — addresses many of these issues and I encourage you to work to incorporate the — into the evaluation processes at your hospital.
We will continue to discuss the ethical environment where nurses work, but although you express a simmering discontent very little of that discontent ends in legal action.
I hope you will continue to dialog with us and others … as we continue to work toward a more ethical climate in nursing.”
Since it appeared I was invited to “continue the dialogue,” I responded. Those emails were never answered!
In my emails, I raised concerns that the cancer of wrongful termination had spread to the nursing schools and, furthermore, that it was having a devastating effect on future nurse/patient advocates.
I asked why national nursing organizations not supporting the spread of the Safe Harbor law to states other than Texas.
I said there was a lack of courageous leadership. I asked for defamation and wrongful termination to be added to the agenda at future conferences or national nursing organizations.
I asked that they send a strong signal to hospitals that there will be no tolerance for defamation and wrongful termination. I asked that it be clear that offenders would be subject to accountability.
Let none of us be fooled! The purveyors of injustice and misconduct are protected by inaction and silence.
“Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” ——Alexander Hamilton 1778