OmniSure continues to be a trusted partner to insurer and healthcare professionals for a myriad of reasons, but a distinguishable aspect is a 24/7 Helpline available to policyholders, brokers, and underwriters. If you are a clinician in crisis it’s extremely beneficial to have a live person answer an urgent call and connect you with an available risk and patient safety consultant. Read on to learn about one of the copious ways OmniSure’s Helpline supports in times of need, and what you can expect when you have any type of risk management predicament.
When to call OmniSure’s Helpline
OmniSure received a call from a nurse working the night shift in an acute care hospital under coronavirus pandemic conditions. Upon beginning her regularly scheduled work shift, she learned she had been exposed to two COVID-positive patients during her work shift 48 hours prior and that the policies and procedures for staff testing, quarantine, and masking had changed within the past 24 hours. Because she is immunocompromised, she felt she was in an unsafe work environment. As it happened, her manager was off duty and the manager on duty did not know about prior accommodations made for her health and well-being, and the Human Resources (HR) office was closed.
She began to feel panic and fear. Her self-preservation instincts were to leave work. However, her professional and ethical instincts led her to call OmniSure’s Helpline for guidance as she was most concerned about the risks of patient abandonment. As is often the case, having someone who is experienced but not emotionally involved in the situation to talk things through and develop a plan of action that is safe for the patient(s) and the clinician was just the support she needed.
Defining patient abandonment: What are your board’s regulations?
Many state boards of nursing address abandonment and provide guidance on what it is and what it is not. As a licensed and practicing clinician, it is your duty to know what your board regulations are, and to practice within these regulations. Allegations of patient abandonment against a nurse by an employer is an employment issue and not a professional liability issue or reportable to the Board. For example, abandonment is not a nurse failing to provide sufficient notice of termination, failure to return to work for an assigned shift, refusing to work in an unsafe or unethical environment, nor refusing to work mandatory overtime. These types of allegations are categorized as employment disputes.
Behaviors that have commonly been deemed as patient abandonment by state boards include: accepting a work assignment, establishing a nurse-patient relationship, and then leaving the unit or facility without notifying a qualified person, failure to perform assigned duties, or leaving without a proper hand-off or report to the oncoming shift. The key to determining what is and is not patient abandonment is commonly established by two criteria: did the nurse accept the assignment, and thus develop a nurse-patient relationship and, did the nurse end the relationship without appropriate notice to allow for the continued care and well-being of the patients?
How OmniSure Stepped In
In speaking with our early morning caller, we discussed what constitutes patient abandonment, the importance of notifying leadership on duty, completing medical record documentation, handing-off via a verbal report to another clinician, confirmed availability of sufficient and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and discussed what was necessary for her to feel safe and remain on duty to care for her assigned patients. We had two follow-up calls to provide support and answer further questions. We learned she had remained on shift and initiated discussions with her direct manager and HR to arrange a work environment that both protected her well-being and provided a safe work environment for the patients in her care.
We are Here to Help
This example of a Helpline call and the OmniSure response to support a healthcare professional to mitigate risk in real-time is the typical risk management support you can expect when you have a risk management question, or find yourself enmeshed in a situation that raises uncertainty. Do not hesitate to reach out or call 800.942.4140 for support when situations or questions about your professional practice arise.