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Patient Endangerment Case Dismissed

Recruitment Lies
 
Ten registered nurses in New York were charged with patient endangerment but all ten cases were dismissed in early 2009. The nurses were all from the Philippines and had been recruited by the Sentosa Recruitment Agency to work at a nursing home for terminally ill children in Long Island. They were to help relieve the ongoing nursing shortage. Back home in the Phillipines, they had respectable jobs, and one was even a doctor.
 
Upon arrival to the US, the nurses realized they were being taken advantage of; they had to do jobs that were either more advanced or more demeaning than was expected. None of the employment promises that were made to them were kept. For example, they were told they would make $34 per hour. Instead, they were paid $24 an hour. Much to their surprise, they were not employed by the nursing home either ... they were actually working for a staffing agency, Prompt Nurses Employment Agency.
 
Things unraveled for the nurses over the following months. Besides not being paid according to their contractual agreement, they were being forced to care for more patients than could reasonably be expected, compromising the safety of their patients. They had insufficient training to do what was required of them, and did not want to be held responsible if something went awry in patient care. 
 
This was not the better life in America that they had dreamed of.
 
Endangered Patients?
 
After bringing their concerns to management and making numerous attempts to improve things, the nurses quit without giving two weeks notice. They were afraid they were endangering patients by having inadequate resources to oversee the patients in their care. Their employer saw things differently. The nurses were accused of professional misconduct for failing to provide proper quitting notice, and then the county prosecutor filed criminal charges against them, saying they endangered the lives of the children on ventilators by leaving abruptly. The nurses could have been deported if they were found guilty. Fortunately, the judge saw no merit to the case. 
 
 "This is a victory for all registered nurses, because the judge recognized that withdrawal from a deplorable work environment, when done responsibly, as in this case, reflects ethical nursing practice.
ANA believes the real patient endangerment lies in the untenable conditions that led the nurses to leave. After exhausting all possibilities to resolve their concerns with the facility and the agency, nurses left without providing two weeks notice. The court"s decision reaffirms what ANA has always known: These brave nurses have deserved the nursing community"s full support because they refused to remain in a situation where patients were being denied the kind of care and staffing they deserved,- remarked American Nursing Association President Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR (http://www.ana.org).      
 
After going through a bitter court case, the nurses have been vindicated, but their American dream is tarnished.

By Neil Whitehall
Get Nursing Jobs, Contributing Editor

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