Nurse Makes Comments About Fatality Online, Gets Fired

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imageA recent article from Yuma Sun discusses how a nurse went onto a website and made insensitive comments on an article about a fatality and was consequently fired.

In my efforts to educate and promote the use of social media for nurses, it is important to continue to stress the need to properly and professional use social media.

Nurse Angela Gusta wasn’t using proper social media etiquette when she went online and commented on an article written about a recent fatality. In reference to a 32 year-old motorist who struck an ambulance while making an u-turn  on his motorcycle and was killed, Gusta commented:

“If the ambulance was on a run and had lights or siren on, the cyclist was in the wrong, PERIOD. If he died, aw, but sorry, HIS FAULT,” she wrote. “As an ER nurse who sees people REGULARLY not get out of the way of ambulances, cops firemen…Got no pity for anyone hit by any of the above. Pay attention and get out of the way.”

Aside from being cruel and insensitive, it’s highly unprofessional and inappropriate.

While it’s often difficult to refrain from passing judgment on individuals for what you may or may not feel is a poor decision for their health, it does not give you to the right to go online and call someone out who is dead. In addition to the fact that speaking ill of the dead is wrong, this person cannot defend themselves and all you are doing is hurting the ones they have left behind.

Nurses, I beg you, if you ever get tempted to make remarks like this related to the death of someone online, please stop! If you feel that you simply must get it off your chest, tell a friend. Tell your spouse! Call me, tell me! I’d much rather you keep those comments offline to preserve the feelings of the families that are effected and to save your livelihood.

Angela’s comments are unfortunately reminiscent of some tongue-in-cheek phrase that many nurses say in reference to their role in healthcare. Phrases such as “Nurses are here to save your ass, not kiss it.” Do most nurses really think that? Are we only there to deliver critical needs and to ignore everything else? Do we really ever expect to be treated as professionals when there are industries devoted to promoting these phrases?

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Making negative and unprofessional statements online, while referencing the fact that you are a nurse, does just as much damage to the profession. This is in addition to the damage being done to said nurse’s career. Just how difficult do you think it’s going to be for Angela Gusta to get a job in healthcare after making a name for herself as an insensitive nurse?

Based upon the facts that were presented in the article, it would appear that Yuma Regional Medical Center has done the right thing by relieving Angela Gusta of her nursing duties.

What would the best thing to do in this scenario be?

Thumper had it right when he said “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all.” Cruel and pointless comments are better left unsaid. If Ms.Gusta’s goal was to increase safety for motorist, her message was lost in her hateful tone and inappropriate timing.

  • What do you think about Angela Gusta’s use of social media to comment on a fatality?
  • Do you feel that her actions merited her dismissal?

For he original article: Nurse fired after online comments about fatality

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6 thoughts on “Nurse Makes Comments About Fatality Online, Gets Fired”

  1. Great article. It sounds like Angela needs a new profession. If you have no compassion, which it sounds like Angela does not, you don’t belong in nursing. As far as the sayings like ‘ nurses are here to save your ass, not kiss it…’ Comes from that frustration of having to do our jobs and being expected to provide service with a smile, as you said. By wearing this sort of swag, maybe we hope one person will ‘get’ it.
    As far as nurses being held to higher standard? You betcha. Although, I’m sad to say, as the younger generation becomes nurses, there seems to be a much lower standard of professionalism and lack of regard for patients, as well as much less compassion and no pride in being a nurse, but this isn’t unique to just nursing- it’s generational.
    Have you been on twitter lately? Some of the things I see people, who say they are nurses, post, makes me sad for the profession and for the poor patients who get that nurse.
    It’s sad, but then again – it’s what the machine has created. In a world where contractors make more than nurses…what more can you expect?

    1. yes Rachel.

      I cringe when I read some of the things they say, but usually just try to ignore it.

      It’s not every younger nurse that is like this, but I agree, some are. I’m in this “younger nurse” category and I went out and started a blog about it! 🙂

  2. As an EMT, I get so frustrated when people don’t yield the right of way and yes, this motorcyclist did cause a very dangerous situation that many people cause more often than I care to think about. However, ANY time an emergency vehicle is responding lights and sirens, the driver MUST exercise Due Regard for the other motorists and simply because they have their lights and sirens on, they are held to a higher standard than the other motorists on the road. If there is an accident, regardless of whose fault it is, the driver of the ambulance will be held negligent.

    This is taken from http://www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com/news/fullstory/newsid/19647/layout/no

    What must be proven in civil court? In a lawsuit, the plaintiff (the person you hit) must prove the “defendant” (the emergency vehicle operator) was in some way negligent. This is some of the criteria that must be proven:
    • The defendant had a duty to the plaintiff.
    • The defendant breached that duty.
    • The plaintiffsuffered some injury or loss.
    • The defendant’s breach of the duty was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury or loss.
    Now, let us take a closer look at what must be proven in a negligence case as it relates to you, the emergency vehicle operator.
    • The defendant (the emergency vehicle operator) had a duty to the plaintiff (all other users of the highway). The
    vehicle and traffic laws state that emergency vehicle operators have the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all other users of the highway. So, yes you do have a duty to the plaintiff.
    • The defendant (the emergency vehicle operator) breached that duty. If you get into a major apparatus accident, you probably have breached that duty.
    • The plaintiff (the other users of the highway) actually suffered some injury or loss. If you have ever witnessed or seen pictures of a major apparatus accident, you know that the plaintiff probably suffered some injury or loss.
    • The defendant’s breach of duty was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury or loss. In other words, the
    plaintiff’s broken leg was a direct result of the defendant’s breach of duty, and that the leg wasn’t broken prior to the accident.

    My comment isn’t to lay blame on anyone here. I know your post is to encourage people to be smart on the internet and I am with you on that 100% (even if I do tend to run my mouth on my blog). The reason I put this is to agree with you that this woman was NOT smart in her insensitive comment AND although people MUST yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle, she needs to understand that this motorcyclist was NOT the only one at fault here.

  3. I think that social media affords many people a feeling of anonymity which often gives us the “courage” to say things that we would never dream of saying to a persons face. Typing words into a computer is very easy, we don’t stop to think twice and ask ourselves is this really a good idea.

    Secondly in response to your comment about the negative phrases like the sign you pictured. I think part of the reason that you see this so strongly on the internet is again because the anonymity and freedom that social media allows us. Nurses are one of the few professionals that have been told they are valuable, given a measure of autonomy and responsibility BUT are still expected to perform in a manner that is still fairly subservient. We are expected to be competent at our job in the face of rudeness, verbal abuse and the threat of physical harm while at the same time doing it with a smile on our faces and carrying out perfect “customer service”. So it should be expected that there will be some backlash of negativity in a “safe” place that offers nurses a chance to vent or assert themselves when we cannot at work.

    I no way do I think Ms Gusta’s comments were in any way appropriate for the public forum, but please lets all be totally honest with ourselves and ask, how many times have you though or muttered something similar when you saw someone cut off an ambulance whit lights on? Her only crime was to express those thoughts openly in a public place where someone took offense. Had she not identified herself as a nurse would people be half so offended? To me this is holding nurses to a higher standard than the rest of society, just like when people get horrified about a nurse who smokes. For some reason because we are nurses we should “know better” or in this case “be more sensitive”, but if Ms Gusta was an office worker in a bank would she have been fired for such comments? My suspicion is no.

    This goes back to my earlier point about the negative backlash, nurses are normal people. But we are being asked to be extraordinary at work, and now in our everyday lives. We are now being told that indulging in the behaviors of everyday people is not appropriate for us because we chose to become nurses, unfortunately I don’t think many of us saw this part of the job description and have totally unready for the challenges.

  4. Great advice, Brittney. I have to agree that the nurse’s online comments were ‘cruel and insensitive,… highly unprofessional and inappropriate’.

    I do feel for this family and this RN, (who likely has a sophisticated skill set). I wonder how the organization could have been more supportive vs their own knee-jerk reaction to ‘control the situation’. Some disciplinary action, for sure, but in stead of termination would an apology to the family with some training for all ER staff on social media impact on families/patients, and also a look at the stress of ER work have been helpful?

    Beth

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