Can an RN who did not clock in be disciplined for abandonment?

By | 2015-09-03T14:30:29-04:00 September 4th, 2015|1 Comment

Dear Nancy,

Can an RN who did not clock in get in trouble for abandonment if she had concerns for the assignment safety related to staffing and telemetry monitoring? She called the manager and refused the assignment because of these issues. She did leave and told the charge nurse from the previous shift that she quit. She did not notify HR until the next day that she quit.

Anna Marie


Dear Anna Marie,

It is not possible to suggest what will result from the nurse’s conduct in this situation. She reported leaving and the fact that she was quitting to the charge nurse and the manager, respectively. These reports may be taken into consideration in relation to any charges by the former employer and by the state board of nursing, should the employer decide to report the situation.

The nurse might want to consult with a nurse attorney or an attorney who represents nurses in professional disciplinary actions in order to be prepared in the event action is taken by the employer and/or the board.

If nurses are confronted with similar safety concerns for your patients in a job, it is always best to try to resolve them at the time they arise. As an example, instead of not clocking in and reporting to supervisors that you are quitting, raise these issues with those who had control over staffing and telemetry. Asking for additional staff or a mentor or preceptor to be with a nurse on the unit might have resolved the situation. Additionally, raising concerns about the safety of patients would be vital.

If these concerns were not heeded, the nurse could have raised them immediately with the CNO. One of the CNO’s chief responsibilities is safe patient care, so the nurse’s concerns probably would have been taken seriously. In addition, risk management can be another resource at times like these.

Advocating for patient safety is an important role for nurses. Doing so in a professional manner, and in a manner that does not pose potential problems for the nurse, is always the best route to follow.



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About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

One Comment

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    Linda September 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    How is this abandonment if she never clocked in and didn’t except assignment? Who didn’t tell the HR? Is it in the employer policy to tell HR? Most likely not. Usually you write a letter and give to your manager or director and work 2-3 weeks and HR might contact you for exit interview. She told the chg nurse, nurse manager or whomever she quit. There was no harm done to a patient because assigned receiving nurse never worked. People handle quitting differently. She may have had enough of being dumped on and found another job. Last thing you want is an uncaring employee, or mad and angry employee caring for you. Employers fire people everyday on the spot. So I see no harm done in this case. She would have done better by not showing up at work at all and called in to see about the assignment.

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