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  • Writer's pictureWTAHealth

Nurses...we are not SUPERHEROES.

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

SENTINEL EVENT- any unanticipated event in a healthcare setting that results in death or serious physical or psychological injury to a patient, not related to the natural course of the patient's illness. Sentinel events can be caused by negligence on the part of a healthcare provider.

An immediate family member had an MI (100% blockage requiring a stent) this weekend… she told her MD at her yearly checkup in August she felt awful for the past year and was concerned there was something wrong WITH HER HEART. An EKG at the time, not surprisingly, prompted a “you're fine” from her provider. We trust providers, we disempower ourselves… we move on. Gratefully, she survived, but the psychological toll on her family is immeasurable.

In March 2020, my family got Covid. My Primary MD insisted I “just get back to work”, because "there were people out there who needed (my)skills". Suggesting I get back to the 24hr call shifts (yes I worked 24hrs straight at least once a week in organ transplant), despite crippling anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks and fatigue, was truly negligent.

I continued to advocate for myself, while she discredited my mental health to the point where I was denied Short Term Disability. This absurdity "resulted in serious psychological injury to a patient, not related to the natural course of the patient's illness." When confronted about her lack of support, she flat out said, I "was faking, to not have to go back to work". I was demoralized, terrified about my families future, but...Should I just get back to work?? NO, I knew the truth and I trusted myself, I EMPOWERED MYSELF, I subsequently entered 6mo of Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) for my mental deterioration and permitted myself to heal.

My Primary MD tried to disempower me. My intuition, MY gut feelings, MY longings to practice wellness, were ignored. "Unanticipated events, in a healthcare setting (telehealth for me), that resulted in serious psychological injury, not related to the natural course of the patient's illness (covid)" was my direct experience. I felt hopeless, that is a dark, scary place.

The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics says that nurses have a duty to care for themselves as well as their patients. Likewise, nurses cannot care for patients adequately if they are not healthy themselves. On-the-job difficulties may be regarded as “just part of the job.” The perpetually burned-out nurse continues working, potentially affecting patient care, causing sentinel events, or chooses to leave the profession.

We are deeply committed to our professions; when we are unable to provide care that reflects the values of our profession, our integrity suffers. We ask ourselves: How can I be a good nurse when I am unable to provide safe, quality, compassionate care to the people I serve? OR MYSELF?

STOP taking advantage of us.

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