A Florida nurse was fired from his job at a Jacksonville hospital for allegedly using a patient's phone to send text messages containing nude photos and a video to himself.
According to reports, one of nurse Luke Waski's patients asked him to call someone for her. Waski made the call on the patient's phone and then left the room with it.
The patient soon received notifications on her Apple Watch that text messages — which included nude photos and a video — had been sent from her phone to a number she didn't recognize. Hospital surveillance footage showed Waski with the patient's phone and that he tried to conceal it in blankets he brought into the patient's room.
The phone number that received the text messages sent from the patient's was the same number the hospital had on file for Waski. The hospital fired Waski and reported the incident to the Florida Board of Nursing.
This story illustrates the severe consequences nurses face for failing to maintain proper professional boundaries with their patients.
Nurses Must Maintain Proper Boundaries With Patients
Boundary violations are one of the most common reasons state licensing boards investigate nurses for misconduct. This is because patients can suffer from boundary violations in ways that might not be immediately apparent.
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), professional boundaries are “the spaces between the nurse's power and the patient's vulnerability.” These boundaries keep patients safe while enabling nurses to care for them.
Many state nursing boards around the country expressly prohibit nurses from violating professional-patient boundaries. For example, the North Carolina Board of Nursing specifically prohibits nurses from violating boundaries with their patients and prohibits nurses from physically, emotionally, sexually, and financially exploiting them.
It can be difficult for nurses to know when they are crossing the line. The NCSBN mentions some “red-flag” behaviors that nurses might want to be careful about, such as demonstrating favoritism; spending more time with patients than is needed; getting together with patients outside of the care facility setting; flirting; and communicating with patients about personal matters.
The circumstances of each situation are different, but in every case, state boards require nurses to use good judgment and hold themselves to high ethical and professional standards.
Nurses Accused of Violating Patient Boundaries Risk Losing Their Jobs and Professional Licenses
Because they are responsible for protecting the public, state licensing boards have broad powers to investigate and discipline nurses for misconduct. Nurses who violate professional-patient boundaries face serious consequences including job loss, and suspension or revocation of their nursing licenses. This can devastate nurses personally, professionally, and financially.
The Lento Law Firm Can Help Nurses Who Are Accused of Violating Professional Boundaries
Joseph D. Lento and his knowledgeable Professional License Defense Team have years of experience successfully defending nurses around the country in state disciplinary actions. They can help nurses accused of violating professional boundaries defend themselves and protect their jobs and careers. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686, or submit a confidential online consultation form.