The following is the text of a letter that I recently sent to the Arizona Board of Nursing in order to address the case of Amanda Trujillo, an employee of Banner Health, whose license to practice was revoked after she intervened on a patient’s behalf.
To the Arizona State Board of Nursing:
I am a nurse, coach, nurse blogger and professional writer, and I have been following the case of Amanda Trujillo quite closely.
Having read the legal brief, Ms. Trujillo’s statements, as well as other facts about the case, it is clear to me that Ms. Trujillo was acting completely within her scope of practice as a nurse when she provided the patient in question with information regarding her choices vis-a-vis her pending surgical intervention.
The fact that Ms. Trujillo is now being forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation further supports the contention that no stone is being left unturned in efforts to undermine her credibility and her history as an exemplary nurse. It is ironic that the surgeon who demanded the suspension of her license and her ability to practice in the state of Arizona is undergoing no such evaluation or rigorous vetting process. The Arizona Board of Nursing and Ms. Trujillo’s employers easily caved to demands by the surgeon that Ms.Trujillo be fired and lose her license, an action that once again demonstrates how the disparity of power between physicians and nurses continues to undermine nurses’ ability to perform their duties according to a clearly stated scope of practice.
Ms. Trujillo was taken to task for “messing up” the surgeon’s “hard work” of preparing for the scheduled surgery. Why was Ms. Trujillo not praised for providing necessary education to a patient who clearly demonstrated a startling knowledge deficit regarding what this surgery would entail for her? Nurses are trained to provide education and resources to patients, and that includes situations wherein physicians themselves fail to educate patients properly. Ms. Trujillo may have “messed up” this physician’s “hard work”, but she refused under these circumstances to “mess up” this patient’s life by failing to educate her and provide the information that would elicit true informed consent, something that the physician in question clearly failed to accomplish.
The nursing community is rallying around Ms. Trujillo due to the facts that clearly demonstrate how Ms.Trujillo acted within her scope of practice and documented her actions clearly and concisely following her interactions with the patient. If the physician was inconvenienced by her actions, this issue could have been addressed by the facility’s ethics committee. Instead, the Board of Nursing and Banner Health agreed to the physician’s outrageous demands, allowing his power to prevent a measured and intelligent response to the situation at hand.
It would indeed have a chilling effect on the entire nursing profession if the Arizona Board of Nursing sets a precedent that redefines our profession and the collaborative health care model that has been the touchstone of professional nursing for decades.
As you by now understand, the actions against Ms. Trujillo and the suspension of her nursing license have ignited a firestorm of criticism regarding how this case has been handled by both the Arizona Board of Nursing and Ms. Trujillo’s employer. The support is only growing, and those who are incensed by this situation will use the power of social media and the traditional media to bring the egregious nature of this case to the attention of the wider public.
I respectfully request that you consider dropping the complaint filed against Amanda Trujillo’s license and the case against her.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, CPC