Professional Boundaries: The Slippery Slope of Nursing in Kansas

The role of a nurse is to be a trusted caregiver to a patient.  The ability to help a person in a time of need is what often influences people to become a nurse in the first place. Whether a patient is in a nursing home or in a hospital, the patient is in a vulnerable position and must rely on nurses for their care.  Professional boundaries are necessary to ensure that the nurse remains the trusted caregiver. A nurse that ignores professional boundaries blurs the line between patient and caregiver and can even come across as a victim to the patient. How is this possible? For example, by placing the nurse’s burdens on the patient, a patient feels sympathy for the nurse, and may not feel comfortable requesting the care that they need in order to avoid being a burden.

Nurses that test these boundaries can place the nurse-patient relationship in harms way, and by doing so can fail to provide the standard of care required. To protect yourself and your nursing license, you need to be aware of actions that could lead you down the slippery slope of improper professional conduct. Here are some of the common warning signs that a nurse may have unhealthy boundaries issues:

  • Talks to patients about taboo subjects. Nursing is a demanding profession that comes with long hours. However, a nurse should not vent to patient about their frustrations. Nurses should especially avoid the following taboo subjects: (1) complaining to patients about co-workers or the facility at which they work, (2) discussing the nurse’s personal problems, and (3) sharing intimate details of the nurse’s personal life to others.
  • Treats certain patients different than the other patients. In any profession, you will have clients or patients that you will like better than others. Obviously, patients that are friendly and treat you kindly are much more likeable than those that are needy and demand your nonstop attention. So long as each patient is receiving the care that they deserve, liking one patient more than another is normal. However, the boundary becomes unprofessional when a nurse provides extra attention to certain patients at the expense of other needful patients. Other warning signs that a nurse is not acting within professional boundaries are that she (1) regularly receives gifts from patients, (2) spends off duty time with patients, and (3) gives her personal contact information to patients.
  • Feels a special connection with a patient: A nurse can also overstep professional boundaries when he starts thinking that he “knows what is best” for certain patients more so than other colleagues. This does not mean that a nurse should not care about his patients or advocate for a patient when deemed necessary. However, nurses should not allow themselves to become so attached that the patient feels like family.

If you are nurse facing disciplinary proceedings or an initial investigation, you need an experienced professional license defense attorney to aggressively represent you. Contact the Sanger Law Office today at 785-979-4353 for a free and completely confidential consultation. Danielle Sanger knows that your nursing license is the key to your livelihood and zealously advocate on your behalf.