When something unfortunate happens to a medical patient, that patient or their family members often look for someone to blame. For example, if an older adult in a nursing home or someone staying at a rehabilitation facility falls and suffers a serious injury, people might blame the nurse tasked with their care at the time of the fall.
However, despite the tendency to immediately blame medical professionals, a fall in an assisted living facility may not be the responsibility or fault of the professional providing care. In fact, you may have done everything in your power to help them after their fall.
Why do falls happen so often?
Older adults and those re-developing their motor skills after a medical event or injury are at higher risk than the general public to fall when walking on an even surface. Some people who have fallen repeatedly may even have medical instructions that they should not so much as go to the bathroom without someone there to support them.
Whether you work one-on-one with an older adult in their home or provide care to an entire floor of patients, it simply isn’t possible for you to be present every single second with someone. It only takes an instant for someone to make a bad decision, like trying to go to the bathroom without assistance despite knowing that they should ask for help.
If you can show that you maintained an appropriate level of surveillance over the patient and had a history of providing timely support for their needs, that could help you defend against claims that you are responsible for their fall.
Angry patients or family members could bring a complaint against you
The people who want to blame you for someone else’s fall may be able to tell a convincing story that makes you into a negligent villain when you were really just taking a brief bathroom break during a long shift or helping another resident. They might report you to the California Board of Registered Nursing, which could investigate and possibly decide to take disciplinary action.
Presenting an alternative version of events and defending your performance at that job or with that patient could be crucial to the maintenance of your nursing license. Learning about the complaint and disciplinary processes, as well as your right to defend your license, can help you respond appropriately to complaints about your job performance.