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April 2010, Volume 40 Number 4 , p 14 - 15


  • Penny Simpson Brooke JD, MS, APRN


I've recently begun working at a new job. This week, I learned from Susan, one of my colleagues, that she'd given a patient the wrong medication, but that she wasn't planning to file an event report because the patient wasn't injured. Susan is a good nurse and both of us are depending on our jobs here. Should I file an event report, which will get her in trouble and flag me as a whistle-blower type? Or should I strongly advise her to file the report, then let it go? What are my legal obligations in this situation?—M.Z., ILL.Event reports are important risk management tools that must be filed for several reasons. The most important is that documenting adverse events and near-misses lets facility administrators identify safety issues and make process changes that minimize the risk of future incidents. In addition, the event report is critical if the patient is harmed and sues. Without an event report, your employer won't have the information needed to mount a legal defense. In addition, a risk manager who's alerted by the event report may be able to head off a lawsuit by intervening immediately and working with the patient.Your colleague is risking termination by deliberately not filing an event report according to hospital policy. Legally and ethically, you can't ignore the situation either, now that you know about the medication error and a possible cover-up. I suggest that you raise your concerns with your colleague and tell her that if she doesn't file an event report, you'll be obligated to file one yourself.If she still refuses to submit the event report, let your nurse manager know that you'll be submitting the report. Because you weren't involved in the medication error itself, the subject of your report would be Susan's refusal to report her error. Risk management would investigate the facts behind the error while dealing with your report.I'm a home healthcare nurse. One of my patients, who has hypertension

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