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BRENDA J. MYERS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/27/85)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 27, 1985.

BRENDA J. MYERS, 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 Brenda J. Myers, No. B-216300.

COUNSEL

Steven M. Carr, for petitioner.

Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Doyle, Colins and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Williams, Jr., did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Palladino

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 400]

Brenda J. Myers (Claimant) appeals here from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming the referee's decision which found Claimant ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits on the grounds of willful misconduct under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn1 We affirm.

The facts, as found by the referee and adopted by the Board, are not in dispute. Claimant was last employed by Lutheran Social Services (Employer) as a nurse at the York Lutheran Home (Home) from September 21, 1981 to August 28, 1982. On August 28, Claimant administered medication to a resident of the

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 401]

Home without checking that resident's medical chart. Claimant was aware that this resident had been prescribed the medication on an as needed basis and assumed that the same prescription was in effect. However, had Claimant checked the resident's chart she would have noticed that the medication she had administered was no longer prescribed on an as needed basis. Rather, the resident was to administer the medication to herself four times a day. Thus, the result of Claimant's failure to check the chart was that the resident received a double dosage of the medication.*fn2 Moreover, Claimant failed to log in on the resident's chart that she had administered the medication. The Employer's policy and state regulations prohibit administering medication without proper authorization and require that all medication administered to a patient be logged in on that patient's medical chart. Claimant was aware of the Employer's policy and admitted that she neglected both to check the resident's chart and to log in the administering of the medication.*fn3 Claimant was discharged both for administering medication to a resident without a physician's order and for failing to log in the administering of such medication.

The referee concluded that Claimant's violation of this known policy of the Employer constitutes willful misconduct. The Board affirmed. On appeal, Claimant argues that her admitted violation of the Employer's policy was inadvertent and, as such, does not constitute willful misconduct.

The employer bears the burden of proving willful misconduct in an unemployment compensation case.

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 402]

    argues, however, that her violation was inadvertent. It is true that an inadvertent violation of an employer's rule does not necessarily constitute willful misconduct. Morysville B. Works, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 54 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 6, 419 A.2d 238 (1980). However, in the instant case, we do not think that Claimant's inadvertence should exculpate her from being found guilty of willful misconduct. Claimant testified that she had "no good reason" for her failure to adhere to the Employer's policy but that she merely neglected to do so.*fn4 Claimant had been employed at the Home for almost a year and had been a licensed practical nurse for fifteen years. Thus, as an experienced health care professional, she certainly was aware of the importance of checking and marking a patient's medical chart.

Moreover, this Court has refused to extend the inadvertence exception to rule violations by health care professionals. See Philadelphia Geriatric Center v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 46 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 357, 406 A.2d 1177 (1979). In Philadelphia Geriatric we stated:

     a hospital may rightfully expect its employees to carry out their duties, and has recognized the need of health care professionals to be able to rely upon the record of medications and treatments administered to each patient. Performing prescribed treatments and correctly marking treatment charts are vital components of a nurse's obligation to her employer and to her patients. Any failure to perform those functions is a sufficiently serious offense to

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 404]

    constitute willful misconduct. (Citations omitted.)

Id. at 362, 406 A.2d at 1179-1180.

Accordingly, we believe the Board was correct in concluding that Claimant's conduct constituted willful misconduct.

The Board's order is affirmed.

Order

And Now, March 27, 1985, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, decision No. B-216300, dated March 28, 1983, is hereby affirmed.

Judge Williams, Jr., did not participate in the decision in this case.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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