Today’s Opinion: Unwritten policy

POSTED: 05/11/11 11:47 AM

The dispute between gynecologist Smith and nurse Cheryl Carty at the St. Maarten Medical Center has caused a lot of negative publicity for the hospital. And what was it all about? An unwritten policy.

We get from a statement issued by hospital Director George Scot that nurse and specialist had a little difference of opinion about the kind of gloves they would use during an examination. Sterilized or not sterilized?

The hospital has this unwritten rule to use sterile gloves for pelvic exams. Smith is a new gynecologist at the hospital and as it goes with unwritten rules: he was unaware of it.

So when the good doctor went for the unsterilized gloves he got the nurse on his back. A shouting and pushing and shoving match followed and the rest is history.

Now the gynecologist is facing disciplinary measures, because the hospital does not condone verbal outbursts or physical confrontations.

As we understand the story, and correct us if we are wrong, the nurse did the screaming (aka a verbal outburst) and the gynecologist did the shoving (aka physical confrontation).

While the hospital does not condone any of this, only the specialist is now facing disciplinary measures. Are we missing something here? Or has the nurse in question the real power in this hospital.

And old saying goes that when two people fight, two people are guilty. At the hospital there are apparently different rules, unless the statement by director Scot erroneously failed to mention that the nurse will also be disciplined for what we hear were hysterics.

But who is to blame for all this really? The unwritten policy of course. It is a bad idea to work on the basis of unwritten policies, because that creates confusion. Just ask Justice Minister Duncan what happens to you if you issue verbal decrees.

So maybe the hospital management should take a look in the mirror, admit that the unwritten policy was at the heart of the matter, and that it has only itself to blame for what happened. And that’s okay, especially because it is easy to repair. Just put the darn policy in writing and make sure that everybody gets a copy.


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