Quote from TurnLeftSide
Whistleblowers should never be afraid.
And in an ideal world they would not be.
Here are two scenarios that are interesting to think about. Both of them made significant news and one resulted in a change in law:
1. I don't have all the details at my fingertips on this one, but this is substantially accurate: A physician at a Los Angeles area hospital made it a regular practice to torture women in labor if they were covered by Medicaid. He thought poor women should not be having children and wanted to make their deliveries as painful as possible so they would learn their lesson and not do it again. After multiple attempts to deal with it through hospital channels failed, one or two nurses reported it to state authorities. The hospital retaliated by firing the nurses. In the aftermath of that, pushed by the California Nurses Assn., the state legislature passed a law that makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who makes a good faith report of illegal action.
2. This one I know much better: At a for-profit hospital owned by a large national chain in a relatively rural area in Northern California, a cardiologist referred large numbers of patients - probably hundreds - to one heart surgeon for heart bypass surgery they clearly did not need. I've seen cath films on a couple of these patients and they weren't close judgement calls - they were normal arteries. Various staff members and physicians complained to hospital management but they were essentially told that the cardiologist/surgeon combination were making a lot of money for that hospital and were untouchable. Apparently no one took it to outside authorities. Eventually, a patient who questioned the recommendation and sought a second opinion ended up blowing the whistle. It made it to 60 Minutes, resulted in catastrophic damage to the hospital's reputation from which it has still not recovered, despite 2 changes of ownership since. Hundreds of workers have lost their jobs as a result and the hospital chain lost billions in shareholder value and tens of millions in fines. In reality, all would have been better off if the doctors were stopped earlier, but no one had the courage to do it.
I just think those two cases make interesting food for thought, as additional examples of the kind of moral issues that nurses in particular can be faced with. One of the amazing things about the second case was that a great many people - doctors, surgical techs, cath lab staff, nurses - all had to know what was going on. I work at a hospital not too far away and our cardiac programs used to compete somewhat. We all knew something was strange there, since they cathed about the same number of people we did but did more than twice as many bypass surgeries. That hospital used to advertise all over the area how low their surgical complication rates were. No surprise I guess, since people with totally normal hearts tend to do quite well in surgery. After it all came out we marveled that it went on for so long and hoped that we would never have allowed it to go on at our hospital. How would you act if faced with those situations?