A Soldier’s Last Mission, A Medic’s Battle For Survival….and Sharon Helman’s Albatross

  Note: Much of this blog posting was taken directly from an article written by Dennis Wagner that was published in the Arizona Republic Sunday August 14, 2014.

The following incidents directly involved former Chief Administrator at the Carl T Hayden VA Medical Center Sharon Helman as she was made aware of the difficulties that veterans were having accessing mental health care they needed to help them with their PTSD and other mental health care concerns.

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Sharon Helman was fired from her post as the VA scandal continued to evolve throughout 2014. She is currently trying to get her job back at the VA Medical Center and her legal team is petitioning the court to be able to do so.

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Brian Mancini served 13 years as a U.S. Army medic and was on a 2nd combat tour when a roadside bomb blew up his military career in 2007.

Mancini says he spent more than 3 ½ years at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center “Getting my face rebuilt” and undergoing therapy. He returned to Arizona with 2 purple hearts, posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, a missing eye, chronic pain, and a titanium plate in his head.

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As Mancini sees it now, America is afflicted by a delayed casualty syndrome. During the Vietnam War, the ratio of combat fatalities to nonfatal wounds was 1 to 2.6. In Iraq and Afghanistan due to improved armaments and medical technology, just one of 17 casualties is fatal. But many survivors are haunted for life by PTSD and concussive brain injuries from improvised explosive devices.

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In Phoenix, Mancini says he turned to the VA Medical Center and immediately learned that his cocktail of medications, which took years to perfect that the Army hospital, was not on the official formulary, so he would have to start over. He found himself waiting interminably for appointments, unable to get approval of outside acupuncture and chiropractic treatments for agonizing headaches and other pain.

“There was a really dark time in my life when I literally just lay on the floor in my house crying,” Mancini recalls. “I just was really frustrated with the lack of care. I felt betrayed. All they wanted to do was throw a lot of drugs at me, and those drugs were having an adverse effect. They had me on 12 medications. At one point I finally said, you know what I’m done.”

Mancini says he decided to use his medical background to develop an alternative treatment regimen with therapies available in the community: from brain training, to yoga, to fly-fishing. He wrote up a handbook and founded an Arizona nonprofit known as Honor House, then arranged a presentation to Phoenix VA Healthcare Systems Director Sharon Helman 2 years ago. The session did not go well. He recalls. “She was more appeasing me than anything.”

Mancini turned next to Terros, Inc., a community health care organization that focuses on inspirational life changes. Terros adopted the treatment program and lost a pilot effort, then joined in the 2nd attempt to get Phoenix VA involved.

This time, Mancini says, Helman who now faced termination in connection with alleged mismanagement at the Phoenix VA reacted defensively.

“I emphasized the need to go out of network to get veterans the services they so desperately needed regarding PTSD. He wrote in an email, “I specifically commented on the ridiculous wait times and presented a solution with very little interest on her part.”

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Later that same year, Helman would find herself intertwined with the death of another soldier who had been desperately trying to get mental health care. His name: Daniel Somers. He took his own life the summer of June 2013 after losing the battle of his life against PTSD.

Jean and Howard Somers said their son Daniel went to the Phoenix VA Emergency Room seeking hospital admission, where he was told there were no beds available. He lay on the floor weeping and pleading for help. “There was no effort made to see if he could be admitted to another facility,” his father recalled. “But he was told: you can stay here and when you feel better. You can drive yourself home.”

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(I wonder was this possibly an ER nurse who told him he could just lay there and go home when he felt better??? Who had the authority, audacity, and lack of human compassion to watch a soldier curled up on the floor in a tortuous state suffer, weep, and beg for help, and then advise him to go home whenever he felt ok? No one ever identified the staffer who allowed him to go….)

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Daniel Somer’s parents said they had met with Sharon Helman after their son’s death and were informed that wait times for mental health care had dramatically improved. They have since learned that VA patient access records were a fiction. They don’t even know if Daniel’s final act was counted in the Phoenix to be a suicide tally. “It’s like with any statistics out of the VA,” Howard Summers said. “What data are they using? Where did they get the numbers? All we can think is, we were being lied to, like everyone else.” The couple testified before Congress last month and created a reform plan for VA suicide prevention. They also have done the math: if 22 veterans kill themselves daily, and the number has been constant for years, more than 100,000 men and women who served America have taken their own lives since 2001. That’s roughly 15 times the number of US military personnel who died in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same period.”

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Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it:

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“I am sorry that it has come to this.”

….The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I cannot do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I cannot laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again.

Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply cannot come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing cover-up is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who cannot understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission.

It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing.

Too trapped in a war to be at peace…too damaged to be at war.

Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it.

This is what brought me to my actual final mission.

Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried….

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that.

It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for.

Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers

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What troubles me about Arizona are two things: The media and the State Legislature. Change is dictated by what is sexy and profitable at the moment, by what gets ratings or soundbite opportunities for journalists and lawmakers. Journalists get prestigious awards, lawmakers get voters and win elections. But the problem stays a problem. PEOPLE ARE STILL DYING. We don’t work together and pool resources to make change happen in this state. There is no cohesive effort that binds together the talents of “award winning” journalists, experienced intelligent lawmakers, healthcare agencies, and the citizens of Arizona affected by the problems. Everyone does their own thing…..each with a means to an end in their own mind. In all of that—the important stuff gets lost somewhere along the way.

     The journalists love to drop the bomb, they make us aware of the travesties and the injustices occurring, people get mad….….and then they silently walk away like their job is done. Like somehow, because they brought light to the issue, it will magically correct itself and go away. WHY NOT KEEP THE ISSUES FRONT AND CENTER?!!!! Legislators will often posture and pace behind podiums and microphones making strong, passionate declarations and demands in front of the flashing lights and microphones…..but when it comes time to walk the talk on the House Floor…what has actually been done? I reference Veteran Health and Patient Safety as just two examples of major issues that have been brought forward in the past two years on many a newscast…..and still, we are losing Vets. Still, we AS A STATE, are failing to rescue.

See, everyone likes to talk about the problem, and around the problem, and what could potentially be done to attack a problem….but as the media attention fades, the legislators go back to fighting about other issues such as who can use a public toilet and who can’t……and people go back their own lives and forget about Brian Mancini and Daniel Somers…the urgency and impetus for change dissipates.

There is no longer this life or death need to get up and do something to prevent another soldier from dying, to prevent the loss of another wife, mother, daughter, husband, father, son….friend. Lawmakers go back to other things like immigration or education….and the mountain toward change gets harder to climb, dangerously steeper. The terrain becomes that much more complex to overcome. If you are a soldier with PTSD, you know that every day the terrain is difficult and often times unpredictable to navigate. In fact, there are some days you have no desire to even try.

This is not YOUR MISSION.

It is ours….

Or, at least, it should be.

     Without the help of concerned citizens, activists, lawmakers, journalists, and healthcare agencies these Veterans cannot get the job done themselves…AND THE POINT IS—they shouldn’t have to. Because it is our turn now. Whether we like it or not, our draft card has been pulled and it’s our turn to figure out what the battle plan should be. It’s our turn to put on the gear and do the work. It’s our turn to protect and serve THEM.

….And we’re doing a pretty crappy job.

In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say– WE…..are failing THEM.

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 “It Matters.”

Amanda L. Trujillo, BS-MSN

Director of Nurse and Patient Advocacy

Humanitarian Advocate Coalition

Phoenix, Arizona

https://www.azhac.us/

Behind Closed Doors #25: “Good Samaritans and Undertakers” Are We Protected?

Information:  White v. Advanced Neuromodulation Systems, Inc., 4732 SCCA (1/14/2011)-FL

Summary: The ‘undertaking’ doctrine may not be what you think!

 

 Disclaimer: Due to the overly sensitive and backward nature of the state I reside in, my nurse attorney Teressa Sanzio has asked me to clarify that I am not practicing law on my blog, rather, targeting these articles toward educational activities that empower good, safe, ethically sound nursing practice. Thank You.

We usually hear of lawsuits that, for the most part, focus on physicians and hospitals. In this most unusual case, it’s the nurse that the patient and his wife ultimately held responsible for the injury caused to the patient. What’s baffling…is that the nurse involved was not practicing in the capacity of a Registered Nurse, rather, she was employed as a device technician and was working well within the scope and regulations set forth by her employer Advanced Neuromodulation Systems (ANS). Her careful documentation would become the highlight of a case that should cause us all to think twice about the Good Samaritan Laws in the states we live in, and to what extent they protect us as nurses. Here, it’s referred to as the Undertaker’s Doctrine which “provides that whenever one undertakes to provide a service to others, whether one does so gratuitously or by contract, the individual who undertakes to provide the service—i.e., the ‘undertaker’—thereby assumes a duty to act carefully and to not put others at an undue risk of harm…The doctrine comes into play where a plaintiff alleges a defendant voluntarily took an action which, although statutorily authorized, is not required.”(White, 2011)

     Here’s some background on the major players in and unfortunate sequence of events that resulted in the paralysis of a patient. Advanced Neuromodulation Systems (ANS) is the manufacturer of implantable spinal cord simulators used for patients who experience chronic back pain. “PMS” is a separate company that “ANS” contracts with to do the sales and servicing end of the business. “PMS” employs technicians to program the spinal cord stimulators. Some of their employees have nursing backgrounds–though it’s not necessary to have a medical or nursing background to perform the functions of programming the devices. The employees who perform this function have no access to the medical records or health histories of patients. Should a client have health or medical questions, PMS instructs its employees to refer those concerns to a physician. Wendy Bolin was one of these employees, and in fact, was the employee  “ANS” assigned to manage the spinal cord stimulator in question throughout this case. Dr. Moyer is the neurosurgeon who initially saw the patient and implanted the device for chronic back pain relief. Dr. Waks was the primary care physician of the patient who had the spinal cord stimulator implanted. Finally, there was a second unnamed neurosurgeon who the patient consulted with shortly before becoming partially paralyzed.

Mr. White initially made contact with Dr. Moyer, a neurosurgeon, early in 2004 for help with chronic back pain. Dr. Moyer recommended a spinal cord stimulator be implanted, explained the risks and benefits of the procedure (which included infection), and Mr. White agreed to the procedure having had the surgery performed sometime in April of 2004. Wendy Bolin, the technician who would be assigned to program Mr. White’s device, became acquainted with him preoperatively and explained her role. It’s unexplained how Mr. White was privy to Wendy’s nursing background, but the court documents emphasize that he was well aware that her role was one of a technician and not that of a nurse. Mr. White first contacted Wendy one day after the device implantation complaining of “seepage” from the incision site. She advised him to call Dr. Moyer, the surgeon who implanted it, for follow up on the issue. He followed those instructions and spoke with Dr. Moyer’s PA who told Mr. White over the phone that the “seepage wasn’t unusual given the circumstances.” (White, 2011) (those “circumstances” were never made clear during the proceedings).

Wendy Bolin and Mr. White had no further contact between June 2004 and January 10, 2005– when he called to advise her that the pain stimulator was not working properly and that there was a cyst next to the site. She made arrangements to meet Mr. White at Dr. Moyers’ office within the hour of his phone call. While reprogramming the stimulator she saw purulent discharge coming from the incision site. She told Mr. White he needed to see Dr. Moyer for follow up immediately. He responded that Dr. Moyer was refusing to see him due to an unpaid medical bill but that he would go see his primary care physician instead. Wendy again insisted he follow up with Dr. Moyer.

Concerned about Mr. White’s inability to see the neurosurgeon, Wendy speaks with the scheduling staff in his office and explains that Mr. White must have a follow up appointment as soon as possible to have the incision site evaluated. She leaves her programming documentation as well as note with her concern about the “purulent discharge” at the surgical site for Dr. Moyer before leaving. Despite Wendy’s efforts, Mr. White is still unable to get an appointment. Three days after meeting with Wendy at Dr. Moyers’ office he presents to his primary care physician, Dr. Waks, who assesses that there is the presence of yellow drainage at the surgical site. He prescribes an antibiotic and strongly advises Mr. White to return to Dr. Moyer’s office for an evaluation. Mr. White returns to see Dr. Waks two weeks later for a follow up appointment —still having been refused an appointment with Dr. Moyer…Dr. Waks would not come into contact with Mr. White again until April of 2005 when, at that time, he advised Mr. White that the site had become infected again. He again urged that the patient return to Dr. Moyer so the device can be removed.

On May 24, 2005 Mr. White makes contact with Wendy, at which time she inquires about the incision site. He mentions that its still oozing now and then but that it’s “okay.” As she has previously, Wendy advises him to make an appointment with Dr. Moyer. He sets an appointment to have the stimulator reprogrammed on June 1st, 2005. Wendy is unavailable for the visit so a  “PMS” colleague, Dawn Dunham, steps in for her. After reprogramming the stimulator, her concerns about the incision site drive Dawn to seek the assistance of Dr. Moyer’s PA—who reassures her and Mr. White that “there isn’t anything to worry about.” The PA then sets a follow up appointment for Mr. White to be seen in two weeks. Dawn then briefs Wendy Bolin about the office visit with Mr. White, adding that an appointment has been set.

 **Court records do not reveal who did it….but Mr. White’s appointment was cancelled**

Exasperated, Wendy Bolin pays a visit to Dr. Moyer’s office by herself to investigate what is going on. After speaking with the scheduling staff she learns that Mr. White has been denied a visit with Dr. Moyer because of an unpaid medical bill and that it must be paid before he will be able to schedule any further appointments. She goes one step further and meets with Dr. Moyer himself to plead Mr. White’s case and relay her concerns about the surgical site. Dr. Moyer refuted the notion that he would deny any patient needed care. She left his office feeling as if something would finally be done to help Mr. White…

Mr. White begins seeing a new pain management physician just a few weeks later. Wendy meets him at the office to program the stimulator and is present for the consultation. The physician also advises Mr. White to go back and have the device removed by Dr. Moyer. He again turns to his primary care physician, Dr. Waks—only this time Mr. White is complaining of  new “numbness in his legs.” At this point he is referred to another neurosurgeon for further evaluation—during this visit Mr. White is given the unfortunate diagnoses of peripheral neuropathy. *It’s unfortunate because the diagnosis was WRONG*

Wendy Bolin was updated about the new diagnosis on August 12, 2005. Just two days later, Mr. White became partially paralyzed due to an infection at the surgical site that caused compression on his spinal cord. When Dr. Moyer was made aware of Mr. White’s condition he remove the stimulator immediately, lamenting that had he knew about Mr. White’s symptoms and complaints it would have come out sooner. The Whites felt Wendy was obligated to do more– and thus held her responsible for not making sure—herself—that Dr. Moyer provided care to the patient. The court was appalled, applying the “Undertaker’s Doctrine,” and entering a judgment “for the nurse”:THE FLORIDA COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED THE JUDGMENT ENTERED BY THE LOWER COURT. The court held, inter alia, that Nurse Bolin’s voluntary actions in urging that the patient be seen by the neurosurgeon who implanted the neuromodulation system in him did not impose an affirmative duty on the nurse to do any more than she had already done. The court held, inter alia, that Nurse Bolin had gone far beyond the call of duty in imploring the patient to make certain that he was seen by the doctor who implanted the device. Through no fault of Nurse Bolin, despite her extraordinary effort to have the patient seen by the doctor in question, the patient was never seen by him. Ironically, Nurse Bolin found herself among the defendants when the patient finally brought suit. Justice was done when Nurse Bolin’s motion for a directed verdict was granted by the trial court and the trial court’s order was affirmed on appeal. IN VIEW OF WHAT THE COURT PERCEIVED TO BE A GROSS INJUSTICE REGARDING THE INCLUSION OF NURSE BOLIN IN THE SUIT, THE COURT SAW FIT TO DISCUSS THE ‘UNDERTAKER’S DOCTRINE.’(Tammelleo, 2011)

 Questions for Consideration

 

  1. At what point (s) in time did Wendy cross into the role of a nurse—provide examples of action to support your opinion. (this is a trick question)
  2. You’ve taken a job in the healthcare setting that does not use nor require your nursing skills, yet you still keep an active RN license. Are you still required to abide by your oath and the Code of Ethics for Nurses when you see or are aware of unethical situations that place the lives or well- being of others at risk? Explain your rationale.
  3. The Whites, in their complaint against Wendy Bolin, state that she should have “warned Mr. White that an infection at the incision site could result in paralysis.” Do you agree? Why or why not.
  4. If Wendy was acting in the capacity of a Registered Nurse, should she have been held liable for, or had the duty to make sure Dr. Moyer provided care to Mr. White? Is there a line at which the responsibility falls to a physician?
  5. Who, in your opinion, is ultimately responsible for the injury caused to Mr. White? Why?

 Discussion

     We’ve all done it and if you haven’t— you’re either lying or haven’t been in the profession long enough: Keeping the “Nurse” on the “DL” (the down low) when out in public. Whether it be the gym, the county fair, a restaurant, or the mall– we like to stay off the clock when we are—off the clock.  I’ll cop to it. When I used to frequent the gym I stayed away from any equipment operated by someone who had skin pallor that screamed “major coronary blockages within.” Cardiac & ER nurses—you know what I’m talking about. Would I do CPR if I had to? Of course I’d do it– But that doesn’t mean I’m about to tempt fate by putting myself in the path of a potential tornado. We live and practice in a litigious society and even the best intentions/efforts to help your fellow man may not go over so well should the outcome be less than satisfactory to the patient and/or family. Hell, doctors even have the ability to destroy your livelihood and future if you do something they do not like or agree with.

      Mr. White’s case is a perfect example of what happens when a nurse—who wasn’t “on duty” as a nurse, sought to help him by tirelessly advocating for his best interests throughout the course of care. I wonder if it was Wendy herself who made the mistake of sharing her nursing background with Mr. White. Here’s a hint—if you’re not working in the capacity of a nurse, don’t share that you have that background for this exact reason! The two roles can easily become blurred in the eyes and mind of the patient. Although the lawsuit named the two companies involved, and each physician that came into contact with Mr. White, the court documentation clearly stated that their focus was on “the nurse.”

Once the coveted RN is placed after your name it would be wise to take a breath, relax with a glass of iced tea or a cup of coffee, and explore your state’s legislative website to learn more about the Good Samaritan Laws in your state. How are you protected legally should you help render aid with a motor vehicle accident or when breaking a few ribs performing CPR in front of the McDonalds at the local mall? It’s important to know these things. There was recently a bad car accident here in Phoenix that involved children. The bystanders were afraid the car was catching fire and worked hard to pull the young children out of their car seats and out of the car before first responders got there to assist. First responders later advised the community via the evening news that because the children were taken out of the car seats they hemorrhaged and coded (trauma code)—the close compartment of the car seat and the belt holding them in place was actually keeping them somewhat stable. There is no fault, lay people don’t know these things—and genuinely want to help. But let’s play the devil’s advocate here—what if those bystanders were nurses and the family found that out? There is a really good chance that they would have been subjected to a lawsuit. The reason why? Well, one could argue that a nurse is trained to assess for potential internal injuries resulting from trauma and should understand the basic principles behind maintaining homeostasis. He/she could be accused of causing harm or death in the process of rendering aid.

     I’m not saying don’t stop and help—I do all the timebut be smart about it and practice defensively–know what,  if anything, your state has on the books to protect healthcare providers while they are engaged in those crucial moments of caregiving…

 

Resources

White v. Advanced Neuromodulation Systems. (2011, January 24). Retrieved May 31, 2013, from LEAGLE: Debate, Cases, Regulations, Statutes, and More: http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?page=1&xmldoc=In%20FLCO%2020110114132.xml&docbase=CSLWAR3-2007-CURR&SizeDisp=7

Tammelleo, D. (2011, January 1). The ‘undertaking doctrine’ may not be what you think! Retrieved May 31, 2013, from The Free Library: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The ‘undertaking’ doctrine may not be what you think!-a0249390289

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