I know I'm a little late to the meeting, but I recently was captivated by the story of Amanda Trujillo—a nurse from Arizona whose license is under investigation for what she claims was her role in educating a patient. One can easily spend hours reading her story and public opinions online, but essentially, it started on the eve of her patient’s surgery.
Amanda and her patient were discussing the surgery and its complications, and she noted gross inadequacies in the patient’s understanding. So, Amanda educated him. As a result of their conversation, the patient decided to delay the surgery and consider alternatives. She ordered a case management consultation for the patient to be educated about hospice care.
The patient’s physician said this was out of her scope of practice and demanded nurse Trujillo to be fired and stripped of her license. He also denied the patient access to the hospice team. Amanda was fired from her position, and although her license remains active, it is under review making it nearly impossible for her to find another job.
What first came to my mind when I read Amanda’s story was fear for my own license. I put myself in Amanda’s shoes. If I felt that my patient had not been fully educated regarding an upcoming procedure or treatment, I certainly would be compelled to continue the education to the best of my knowledge, and refer the patient to appropriate resources in areas that I was not well versed.Providing continuous education and reinforcement is second nature to nurses. We are patient advocates. It would be far worse to have a nurse who was indifferent to the patient’s knowledge of his plan of care. Isn’t patient autonomy valued?
Perhaps the most disappointing piece of this story is that Amanda does not feel supported by her profession. Instead, she feels alienated by former coworkers and the Arizona Board of Nursing. Amanda has made her story very public. There seem to be very few comments from the hospital who fired her or the Arizona Board of Nursing, but I eagerly await more news of this case in March. I encourage you all to follow it as well and to support a fellow nurse. I recently read that nursing is the second largest profession after teaching. That means that we are a powerful group. We can be vocal. We can be loud. Let’s be heard.
Carol Cannon, RN, BSN, OCN®, recently moved from Bethesda, MD, to Austin, TX, with her husband and German shepherd, Heidi. She is now the oncology program specialist at a nonprofit organization under the Texas Nurses Association/Foundation. Previously, she worked as a clinical research nurse at the National Institutes of Health. She and her husband enjoy exploring their new home in Texas, where the people are friendly and the weather is warm.