I'm not surprised by what happened to the Texas nurse working as hospital coder and chart auditor who was asked to remove "RN" from her name badge ("RN Credentials: Mad about Badge," Advice, p.r.n., November 2004). I've seen more than one hospital try to keep a credential off someone's badge or print it in type so small that it's difficult to read. This "helps" the facility by preventing "nosy" patients from asking embarrassing questions about staffing.
Although the nurse wasn't working in a clinical position, this doesn't mean she shouldn't be identified as an RN. The Texas Nurse Practice Act clearly says that RNs should be properly identified "when interacting with the public in a professional nursing role." Anytime an RN is in the hospital, she could be called on to help an elderly person into the restroom, provide CPR to an arrest victim until the code team arrives, or calm a patient she just happens to see. If she's not identified as an RN, she may be violating board rules.
If a JCAHO surveyor suggested removing "RN" from her badge, as this nurse suspected, perhaps that surveyor should speak with someone at the Texas Board of Nursing and explain his position. I'd also be interested in knowing if this hospital has a physician on staff who works as a "paper pusher." If so, did anyone tell him to take "MD" off his badge?
Tell the nurse to contact the board of nursing and keep fighting to have her professional role identified.
-JENNIFER ROBINSON, RN, C