If you’re a registered nurse, LPN, CNA or any healthcare professional at a hospital, you’re in a position to notice patient safety problems and unsafe working conditions. When you do, it’s part of your job to report these issues to the hospital. Patient safety should be of the utmost concern because everyone, including their loved ones, wants to go to hospitals that are safe.
Common patient safety issues you may notice include:
- Diagnostic and treatment errors
- Violations of health and safety codes
- Poor disinfection, sterilization and device cleaning
- Lack of hand washing/hygiene issues
- Inadequate care coordination
- Mismanagement of behavioral health needs
- Lack of opioid safety across the continuum of care
- Use of workarounds when standard procedures are inconvenient
- Insufficient emergency preparedness
- Inadequate staffing levels leading to patient safety concerns, staff injuries and burnout
Other issues you may have witnessed may include patient privacy violations, fraudulent billing or financial misconduct, violations of environmental regulations, unpaid overtime, harassment and discrimination.
Hospital leadership ought to be glad you’re so vigilant — but sometimes they’re not. Sometimes, they respond negatively and take negative job actions against you. Sometimes, they terminate the messenger outright. Other times, they retaliate by making the job so difficult that no reasonable person could continue working there. This is called “constructive termination.”
Retaliation is illegal
The law is on your side. When you notice illegal, unethical or unsafe conduct by hospital staff, you don’t have to remain silent in order to keep your job — there are laws that prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers.
Whether you are considering blowing the whistle on wrongdoing, you lost your job in retaliation or feel you are being forced out of your position, a lawyer may be able to help.
If you haven’t taken concrete steps toward blowing the whistle, an attorney can help walk you through the process and fight back against possible retaliation. If you have been fired or constructively terminated, an attorney may be able to get your job back and/or obtain compensation for your trouble and losses.
Perhaps most important, an experienced lawyer can help you fight to get the hospital to listen to your concerns and take effective action to address them.