The falsification of information is a serious matter especially in healthcare. When carried out by nurses, it signals to the employers that they are not trustworthy – and can lead to immense consequences.

Even though the falsification of documents in nursing is not a new phenomenon, it places patients in danger and is a completely deceptive and unacceptable act. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) alleged this as a fraud, which is “the intentional deception or misrepresentation made by a person with the knowledge that the deception could result in some unauthorised benefit to him or some other person.”

Chart falsification comes in many forms. A nurse might do an ‘early’ documentation by signing off early on the medication chart – indicating that she has given the medication before she actually did. She might have the intention of carrying out her duties, but she might have been caught up with another task and forgot to serve medications.

Nurses also work in a hectic environment, which can lead to late or missed medications and unintentionally cause nurses to sign off on the missed medications and dispose them to avoid the discipline. Sometimes, nurses tend to sign-off on medications that were given to the patient – however, probably due to careless and poor vigilance of monitoring, the medication given would not be taken by the patient.

Nurses jailed for falsifying stroke patients' records

Falsification in nursing is an offence that can jeopardise one’s career. In the UK, two nurses, Rebecca Jones, 31, and Lauro Bertulano, 46, were sentenced to prison due to falsifying vulnerable stroke patients’ vital medical tests. In their case, they were supposed to carry out a test and record it accurately instead of submitting bogus blood glucose readings.

Their task was to conduct checks at least every two hours on diabetic patients, so that their glucose levels would not become dangerously low or high. However, Jones falsified 51 entries for nine elderly patients. Additionally, Bertulano made 26 bogus readings for six gravely ill patients at the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend, South Wales.

The prosecutor, Christopher Clee, told the court that they recorded fictitious results of patients in their care. “It was found they failed to carry out diabetes tests for patients and made up results. In short throughout blood glucose tests were never carried out,” expressed Clee, adding that such a practice could lead to serious consequences.

Following their offence, Rebecca Jones was sentenced to eight months, while Bertulano was sentenced to four months in jail.

Falsification of documents: Unethical and a serious felony

Falsification of documents is against the legal parameters. Nevertheless, many nurses take it as a light matter; and overlook the serious consequences that they have to face due to this illegal omission. If they are convicted to the felony, they are responsible for the fines, lose their license of practice and face a jail sentence.

In fact, nurses in a felony conviction related to a controlled substance, or a misdemeanor conviction relating to a healthcare fraud, may be excluded from working in any Medicare or Medicaid facility.

Once nurses are involved, the board of nursing will make a report to take disciplinary action against nurses to the National Practitioner Data Bank. The data bank is used by organisations to determine licensing, credentialing, privileging or employment decisions. MIMS

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