The Case of Amanda Trujillo

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Post updated on January 10, 2013; see final paragraph. Amanda Trujillo, MSN, RN, is a nurse who until recently worked at Banner Del Webb Hospital in Sun City, Arizona, until she was fired for, as she claims, just doing what she’s obligated to do as a nurse—specifically, providing a patient information about a surgical procedure in an attempt to support fully informed decision making. (You can read her e-mail detailing her story here. She did not, as she has pointed out in comments, ever attempt to directly obtain informed consent herself.)

Amanda Trujillo

Ms. Trujillo says that, when the patient had a change of heart about the surgery, she requested a hospice consult. After a physician complained that Trujillo had overstepped her scope of practice, the hospital filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Nursing, which has launched an investigation.

Ms. Trujillo has gone public with her story, sending e-mails and tweets to editors, public officials, bloggers, and the news media. The nursing blogosphere is full of posts with her story—Emergiblog, vdutton’s posterous (which has her attorney’s response to the complaint), and thenerdynurse, as well as a number of others. On January 31, she was interviewed on local television. She makes a compelling case that she was advocating for the patient’s right to information, and one wonders why she was fired and is under investigation.

As we have been for 112 years, AJN is all for coming out in support of nurses. Do we believe a nurse’s first duty is to the patient? You bet. We’re also all about accuracy and facts, and in this case, it’s been tough getting information from all sides. While certain assertions have been repeated in most of the supportive blog posts we’ve read, the undertone is that there is more to this case than the obvious.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far from the other parties: According to Joey Ridenour, MN, RN, FAAN, executive director of the Arizona Board of Nursing, “While the investigation is ongoing, information is kept private to protect the nurse should the complaint be unfounded.” She noted that while Ms. Trujillo can go public with details, the Board cannot. She did verify that Banner Del Webb Hospital filed a complaint about Ms. Trujillo’s practice on April 26, 2011, for “non-compliance with Federal, State or contractural arrangements.”

Ridenour also verified that at the January 24 Board meeting, the Board reviewed the case, voted to continue the investigation, and requested a psychological evaluation of Ms. Trujillo. When I asked if this was unusual, she said that in general, if the board feels that there is a lack of understanding in complex cases, the Board will ask for “expert opinion.” The Board will reconvene in March to review the findings and rule on the complaint. In the interim, Ms. Trujillo’s license remains active and without restrictions. […]