Would You Report This Incident?


Published: 09 May 2016

You’re on a day shift and are slightly understaffed.

Unfortunately, a number of nurses haven’t shown up for work and replacements have been hard to find. You’re working twice as hard as usual, just to keep up with your normal patient load.

Although there are many reasons for someone to suddenly be unable to attend work, you can’t help but ponder the reasons your colleagues did not come in today.

Tired and demoralised, you end your shift and drag yourself home.

To unwind, you fire up your phone and take a look at your Facebook feed. You happen to be friends with many of the people you work with and enjoy keeping in touch with your colleagues outside of work hours. As you scroll through your feed, you notice a post from one of the nurses that were absent from work that day.

The post contains a picture of a cocktail, captioned “What a night! I was so hungover that I had to call off work!” Frowning, you feel slightly compromised, and begin to feel resentful – anger starts to build up. You have just endured a tough day at work as a result of their partying.

The image is clearly taken from the night before. You have proof that she lied. What do you do with this information?

Co-worker Report Incident Social Media

You may think that no one would be stupid enough to post these kinds of things to social media, but it has happened. As the person who discovered this post you now have a few tough options to consider: you could turn her in, though some would balk at this because they don’t want to be branded a snitch.

They would take the view that what was shared was not intended to be seen by Management. If you did turn her in, she may become angry towards you and potentially take it out on you on the floor. Turning her in may cause more problems than it solves.

On the other hand however, you could say nothing, but is that really fair?

You had to endure a tough day at work because of her actions, and patients were potentially put in danger. If she was sick, then you could possibly understand, but this is abuse of the system. The ramifications of turning her in however could be quite severe; she could be fired and you don’t want to see that happen either. She has put you – and anyone else who saw her post – in a difficult position, and it is a choice you have to make.

Further Learning: Take the online course, ‘Dealing with Unhelpful Staff Behaviour

The Outcome of Reporting

In real life, when a situation like this arose, the nurse who found the post on Facebook printed the evidence out and anonymously slipped the copy into the manager’s mailbox. This is a reasonable way of handling the situation, but it did result in many people speculating on who the culprit was.

Unfortunately, the decision to anonymously report led to a great deal of finger pointing, speculation, and gossip. It wasn’t healthy for the ward, but ultimately the whistle-blower was never truly revealed.

Co-worker Report Incident Social Media 2

The nurse in question was approached and reprimanded. She was put on probation, but the extent of her punishment was never fully revealed to staff. Of course, the nurse was unwilling to speak of the matter, but she didn’t call off work as often. In addition, she didn’t post personal things on Facebook, and she unfriended many of her co-workers from her feed.

In time, she moved on, however, the staff on the ward remained incredibly careful about what they posted on social media after the incident. Many thought that the “snitch” was breaking an unspoken vow of privacy by reporting, but the nurse showed a severe lack of understanding and maturity with her post. It is a cautionary tale of the power and the negative consequences of social media.

Would You report it?

Read A Nurses’ Guide to Securing Your Online Facebook Privacy