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PHILADELPHIA GERIATRIC CENTER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/05/79)

decided: October 5, 1979.

PHILADELPHIA GERIATRIC CENTER, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Lillian Selby, No. B-154209.

COUNSEL

Barry R. Elson, with him Jeffrey Ivan Pasek, and Cohen, Shapiro, Polisher, Shiekman and Cohen, for petitioner.

David R. Confer, Assistant Attorney General, with him Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 358]

Philadelphia Geriatric Center (Center) appeals from a decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) granting benefits to the claimant, whom the Center employed as a licensed practical nurse for 17 years but discharged on June 29, 1977. We reverse.

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 359]

On June 28, 1977, the claimant was assigned to administer five treatments to a particular patient at the Center during her evening shift. The treatment in question involved administering medication to a bedsore of the ankle and applying a clean dressing to the wound. That evening was a very busy one at the Center, and while tending to the patient the claimant ran out of tape to wrap the dressings. She requested more tape, but the quantity given her was insufficient to dress the ankle wound and another wound she was assigned to treat. She reapplied dressing to that other wound but did not get to treat the ankle wound. When making notations on the patient's treatment card, the claimant charted the ankle treatment as having been given by placing her initials in the appropriate box. The proper procedure for charting a treatment a nurse is unable to give is to circle the appropriate box and to write on the back of the card the reason for not doing so.

The next day it was discovered that the ankle medication had not been given. The Center conducted an investigation and terminated the claimant's employment for falsification of patient treatment records in violation of hospital rules.

On July 27, 1976, the Philadelphia Geriatric Center published Nursing Memorandum #7605, governing the failure to give or chart prescribed treatments. In part that policy provides that the charting of treatments which are not given is considered falsification of a legal record and that the first offense will result in immediate dismissal. Nursing Memorandum #7605 was placed in nursing policy manuals kept on every floor in the Center, and in April of 1977, after another employee was discharged for falsification of a patient treatment chart, copies of Nursing Memorandum #7605 were posted on every floor.

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 360]

The Board found that the claimant had mistakenly charted the ankle treatment as having been given and that this mistake was not intentional and was an honest mistake. Noting that the claimant had never been warned about such conduct, the Board granted benefits to the claimant.

An employee is ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits for any week in which "his employment is due to his discharge or temporary suspension from work for willful misconduct connected with his work. . . ." Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law), Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 54 P.S. ยง 802(e). Willful misconduct has been defined numerously by this Court as including acts of wanton or willful disregard of the employer's interest, deliberate violations of the employer's rules, conduct in disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has a right to expect, and acts showing intentional and substantial disregard ...


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