Texas Board of Nursing: Protection for Nurses Refusing to Engage in Certain Conduct
While nurses do have an obligation to their employer, their first responsibility is to their patients. Because of this, there are protections in place to prevent them from being suspended, terminated, or otherwise disciplined or discriminated against for refusing to engage in conduct that may endanger their patients. This right extends to the nurse’s refusal to engage in any action that may otherwise result in a report to the Texas Board of Nursing (BON). To adequately protect themselves, nurses are encouraged to understand these protections and how they may apply to any given situation.
In regards to patient safety, nurses are encouraged to maintain self-awareness to identify any unsafe limitations within themselves, or within their workplace. Examples to those limitations include:
- Fatigue, stress, or overworked situations that may hinder their ability to participate in mandatory overtime hours;
- Inadequate staffing that hinders proper treatment or safety of patients;
- Patient or department assignments for which the nurse is inadequately trained, skilled, or equipped to handle;
- Patient or department assignments that may pose a serious threat to the health or safety of patients or staff; and
- Resource limitations or disruptions in care environment that may pose a threat to patients and/or staff.
Nurses have the right to refuse assignments if potentially endangering limitations exist, but they must do so prior to administering care. To avoid ramifications, proper protocol for refusing to accept an assignment should be followed (i.e. filing necessary paperwork). A nurse also has the right to voice any concerns he or she has regarding patient assignments, staffing issues, resource issues, or personal limitations that may place patients, self, or other staff members at risk without fear of retaliation from his or her employer.
Refusal to Engage in Improper Conduct According to Texas BON
In addition to receiving protections regarding work environment and personal limitations, nurses are provided with protection against retaliation for refusing to engage in any action that may be perceived as misconduct, or that may result in a report to the Texas Board of Nursing. This protection extends (but is not limited to):
- Writing a prescription for which they are not authorized;
- Performing a procedure they are not trained or authorized to do;
- Administering treatment they believe places the patient at risk, or for which they have not been adequately trained or authorized to provide;
- Falsifying patient records; and
- Refusing to engage in an affair with a supervisor.
It should also be noted that these rights cannot be nullified by a contract, and that anyone who violates these protections offered to nurses may be reported to their licensing agency.
Reported for Refusing to Engage in Misconduct? Seek Professional Legal Counsel
Despite having these protections in place, there may be some employers that attempt to retaliate. Do not expect your rights to be protected by the Texas BON; their obligation is to the safety of the public, not to you. Instead, seek assistance from a skilled Texas professional license defense attorney. With over 30 years of experience in the medical-legal arena, Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, can ensure there is someone on your side, protecting your rights and best interest. Call 512-949-5061 to schedule your initial consultation today.