Whistleblowers

  1. press release for use:

    "NYS Assembly Passes Whistleblower Legislation
    Bill Prohibits Retaliation When Healthcare Workers Report Unsafe Care -

    Albany, NY March 6, 2002 - Legislation that would improve protections for nurses and other healthcare workers who speak up about unsafe patient care was passed today by the New York State Assembly.

    The action was applauded by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which has long advocated for whistleblower protections that are tailored to the unique needs of the healthcare environment. The measure (A9454) was sponsored by Assembly Labor Committee Chair Catherine Nolan and received unanimous support on the Assembly floor.

    While the bill passed today is not as comprehensive in its protections as the measure vetoed last year by Gov. George Pataki, it is a step forward in the effort to get justice for nurses and other healthcare workers who face retaliation when they report unsafe care conditions.

    "The continued pressure from the nursing community after last years veto led to the introduction of this new bill," said Tina Gerardi, NYSNA deputy executive director.

    "We will maintain our efforts to remove the gag from nurses. Nurses should be able to act as patient advocates and expect that the government will support them." The bill will be forwarded to the State Senate, where an identical bill (S5813) is on the Senate calendar......."
    http://www.NYSNA.org
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    Food for thought:

    WHISTLEBLOWING AS A FAILURE OF ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS
    James J. Fletcher, PhD; Jeanne Sorrell, PhD, RN; Mary Cipriano Silva PhD, RN (Dec. 31, 1998): Whistleblowing As a Failure of Organizational Ethics
    Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.
    http://www.nursingworld.org/ojin/topic8/topic8_3.htm


    Response by John Phillips to
    "Whistleblowing as a Failure of Organizational Ethics"

    I wanted to note, after reading "Whistleblowing as a Failure of Organizational Ethics," that nurses and others who choose to blow the whistle do have some job protection if they file whistleblower ("qui tam") lawsuits under the False Claims Act.
    http://www.nursingworld.org/ojin/letters/t8e19.htm

    Also, check out info posted by Tim GNP under thread" A quesion of MDS":
    Actually, if you suspect fraud, you might want to get in touch with the OIG's office [office of the inspector general]. If you agree to help them [anonymously], if they recoup any funds they give you a cut. Visit them at: http://oig.hhs.gov/ Click on fraud prevention and detection link.
    http://allnurses.com/forums/editpost...t&postid=95610
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Mar 10, '02
  4. by   nightingale
    jt:

    Does not the whistleblowers gain protection from the what the ANA has adopted? I remember talk about the nurses in New Mexico who were given protection by the ANA for reporting a Dr. there.

    It sounds a lot more clear whe nthe state has adopted a policy. I wish more states were doing this. It seems rediculous that we must ask for protection when we are performing what is mandated in the Nurse Practice Act. Or do I have a naiive slant on this?

    B.
  5. by   nightingale
    I have read the articles and will attempt to answer my own question. I still hope to get your feedback jt and as always, Karen's, and all others who care to.

    Does the Nurse Practice Act provide protection? According to the first article, WhistleBlowing as a Failure of Organizational Ethics, this comment was found in the case study of a nurse who blew the whistle on unsafe practices of a hospital:

    In summary, the very expectation inherent in professional codes of conduct that exhorts nurses to act to protect patients and the public from unprofessional conduct, may, in fact, put unreasonable burdens on nurses if there are not effective support networks within the organization. Organizations must explore options for formulating professional codes in a way that will provide the support critical for raising the organization's awareness of problems that may bring potential or actual harm to patients and the public. One possible source of assistance in developing organizational codes of ethics for HCOs is JCAHO.

    ------

    I obviously have had (past tense) a very naiive slant on this......

    Thank you for this posting and the articles....

    B.
  6. by   fiestynurse
    California passed a similar law in 1999. It gives extra protection for healthcare workers when they discuss unsafe practices to outside sources. They can't demote, terminate, or blacklist you for reporting things like, understaffing. The public has a right to know and nurses have a duty to advocate for the rights of their patients.
  7. by   -jt
    Our Human resources manual states that grounds for immediate termination is if the employee speaks in public about the hospital in a negative manner. I mean technically, we could be on the bus stop talking about how unsafe our hospital is because of short staffing & exhausted nurses being made to work OT & if we get reported for it, we can be fired. We are a union, so we could fight it but we'd have to go thru the fight.

    State law for whistleblower protection will throw that clause of the manual right out the window.

    Re: the nurses in New Mexico..... they had to go to court and fight for their right to speak on the pts behalf. (can you imagine that it actually came down to that??? RNs having to fight in court to be able to speak out for their pts???)

    The ANA argued their case for them, siting the Code of Nurse Ethics (which our own Jenny P had a hand in forming) & the RNs obligation by to it to protect their pts. The judges agreed.

    There have been other famous cases of nurses in more than one state that have been retaliated against & lost their jobs for speaking out to protect their pts, even though their code of ethics required them to do so. And they too have had to fight in courts. State laws that mandate whistleblower protection would put an end to all that nonsense.
  8. by   nightingale


    Thanks jt for your eye opening post.....

    B.
  9. by   All41
    All I can say is to be ready for the consequence. No matter what is P&P, Legislated or assured...no one is safe from retribution. But HEY, it's never stopped me
  10. by   -jt
    The thing about not having legislation is that when you are retaliated against, and you have to fight for your right to protect your pts, the fight can last years & be extremely expensive.

    We had a situation here where a nurse manager who was told by the staff nurses on her unit that a physician ordered them to document that he gave care to a pt which he did not give (falsify the medical record). The nurse manager instructed the nurses that this was illegal & not to do it. She then went to the top administration & informed them of the incident. She blew the whistle on the physician - and was promptly fired. She found other employment elsewhere, still fought the wrongful termination in court & won reinstatement and back pay - but this court fight took 7 YEARS to finish.

    Its outrageous that nurses, who are there to protect pts, have an ethical and professional responsibility to speak out for their pts but then are gagged from doing so.

    If we had whistleblower protection legislation at that time, this never could have happened to her.
    Last edit by -jt on Mar 12, '02
  11. by   -jt
    NY State Official Website
    Press release:

    "Three-Way Agreement Reached on Health Care Whistleblower Protection Bill
    Nurses Credit Assembly for Leadership as House Passes Measure

    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan today announced Assembly passage of healthcare "whistleblower" legislation that would protect health-care workers who make public instances of wrongdoing by health care facilities. The bill has also been agreed to by the Senate AND Governor George Pataki.

    Today's action marks the fourth consecutive year that the Assembly has passed health-care "whistleblower" legislation.

    The bill (A.9454) would prohibit health-care employers from retaliating against their workers who advocate for patient care by going public with cases of institutional wrongdoing.

    "Fighting for the rights of their patients should not leave nurses and other health-care workers fighting for their jobs," said Assembly Speaker Silver.

    Silver praised Nolan, chair of the Assembly Labor Committee and sponsor of the bill, for her long-standing commitment to ensuring that workers who seek to act in the best interest of their patients do not fall victim to retaliation.

    "This legislation has had a long and arduous history, and I credit Assemblywoman Nolan for seeing it through and for being a strong and effective voice for all workers in this state," said Silver, who noted that earlier versions of the bill had been resisted by the Senate and vetoed by the governor.

    "New Yorkers rely on their health care professionals to be qualified and conscientious," said Nolan. "These workers play a critical role in ensuring quality health care and must be afforded protections."

    "We're proud of New York's nurses and members of the Assembly who refused to let this issue die after the veto of a 'whistleblower' bill last year," said Tina Gerardi, deputy executive director of the New York State Nurses Association.

    "The Assembly for many years passed legislation designed to get justice for nurses who are penalized by their employers when they courageously speak up about unsafe patient care. Nurses must be able to fulfill their roles as patient advocates and have confidence that the law will support them," said Gerardi.
    http://assembly.state.ny.us/Press/20020306a/
  12. by   nightingale


    Thank you for this feedback jt... as always to you and Karen...

    B.

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Whistleblowers