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  1. Section Editor(s): Salladay, Susan A. RN, PhD

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Last week, I was accused of mistreating a patient who had end-stage cancer and died in my unit. In a letter to hospital administrators, the family criticized several staff members, but apparently mentioned my name most often.


The patient died over 2 months ago so I don't remember all the details. But I know I took great care of her and was open and friendly with her family. They even gave me a small thank-you gift.


My manager, who won't show me the letter or share the specific accusations, has asked me to write a statement about my care of this patient. What should I do? -A. L., WASH.

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Before you make any written or oral statements about this situation, obtain a copy of your employee rights (most human resources policies are available online to employees), the hospital's policy on accepting gifts, and the employee grievance process. Also review the patient's medical record to help you recall the care you gave.


Send a hard-copy letter to your manager, asking again to be told exactly what you've been accused of doing. State that you have the right to know if hospital risk management and quality assurance are reviewing this situation and ask specifically what's expected from you during this review. Keep the letter simple and clear and save a copy of the letter and any responses. Also consider contacting the risk manager for a better understanding of the issues.


Refusing to cooperate with the hospital's investigation as requested could be considered insubordination and expose you to disciplinary action. As this situation unfolds, you may need to consider consulting an attorney.