Could you be a whistleblower? - page 5

by alan headbloom 6,067 Views | 45 Comments

Justice--finally--is served By JAMES ELI SHIFFER, Minneapolis Star Tribune; December 28, 2009 Ladonna Schweer has been wrapped up in litigation for 15 years after she reported suspected Medicare fraud at a Fridley hospital.... Read More


  1. 1
    Here's a story from my pre-pharmacist days; it happened in the mid-1980s when I was a clerical employee at an insurance company.

    A woman in an adjoining department, after graduating from high school about 10 years earlier, got a job at a bank where it turned out that the loan officers - all men back then - were very openly running around with the female employees, and when she refused to participate, she was fired.

    A couple weeks later, she had her first interview, at this insurance company. Her male interviewer's first question was, "Why were you fired from XYZ Bank?"

    Her reply: "Because I wouldn't go to bed with the loan officers."

    He set his pen on the table, looked her straight in the eye, and said, "I'm offering you this job, and I want you to take it."



    Back then, there weren't the consequences to sexual harassment that there are now, but she was a whistleblower in her own way.
    Last edit by rph3664 on Jan 1, '10 : Reason: typo
    lindarn likes this.
  2. 3
    First off let me say that I did not go into nursing for the pay. In fact if someone could offer me a nursing job where I could actually take proper care of my patients, thus be less stressed, and over all a happier person, at less pay that what I receive now, I would HAPPILY take the position. I've only been a nurse for a year and a half, but I've already tried to speak up at my hospital about some of the practices we have. I was all gung ho to help improve the situation, but instead I've got my RN director telling me to think about transferring to a different hospital and my manager (who I honestly believe is doing the best she can to help me) telling me to "stay low and out of site". My issues were/are serious and need to be addressed and I'm not so new to the work force that I don't know the appropriate way to ask for change or make mistakes in being disrespectful and impatient. And while the things I wanted are urgently needed; nothing has been so disastrous as what was described in the first posting...yet. I've been told in a 'gentle' manner to shut up or my next stop is the door hitting me on the way out. I also go to go to Employee assistance for attitude 'counseling' because of my 'negativity' about the hospital. All of this for suggesting that a floor that takes care of CABG pt's have some actual training on external pacerwires (we do not have a clinical education nurse) and that we have a better 'code blue' protocol instead of our current state of calling the code team and waiting until they get there to start doing anything. I might be a new nurse, but I worked 4 years in a large ER before I started on my floor and I have seen how smooth a prepared team of care givers can give emergent life saving care AND how effective it is.

    Now just from the statements I've made some of people are inclined to give the following advice: "maybe it was your approach" or "your manager is silly for not listening" yet neither of these helps me change things. Yeah there is a good and bad way to address the problem, but it seems that all nurses are stuck up on is how we approach those who can change the problem. These are diversion tactics ladies and gentlemen, this is how those in power keep us still. Instead of saying lets see if we can figure out how to improve the issue you brought up (because they really don't want to fix the issues and are really just mad that you said something was wrong in the first place) they say lets address your attitude or your approach. As though if I had brought up the problem in a different manner the person in power would have actually addressed it then.
    Here is what happens once you have stood up for yourself and your patients, the PTB knows that you are willing to speak up. That's a problem. So they do crap like start dinging you for little things like 10 weeks ago you forgot to get 2 units of aspart cosigned, or you missed documenting that you turned a patient, so on and so forth. Thus if you **** them off again they'll have plenty of amio to fire you.
    Now lets address Melhun's problem where she did actually get fired for doing the right thing. I commend Melhun's efforts and agree that she should not feel disgraced for being fired for doing the right thing. However, in reality being fired is a disgrace in the work force's eyes. Thus the next few jobs he/she gets will be difficult to obtain. Melhun will and probably has been over looked for a position due to the fact that he/she was fired. When Melhun goes to an interview he/she will be asked to address the reasons he/she was fired and the person doing the hiring will have to determine if they want to deal with an employee that has potential to 'rock the boat'. In other words the whole ordeal has not only cost Melhun all the problems he/she has had while trying to do the right thing, he/she will be punished further by having a more difficult time finding a job in an already difficult market.
    Healthcare is a cooperation these days people. If you read in between the lines we are not there to provide care, we are there to make the hospital money. To those of you who think they will feel better about themselves for speaking up, well when you can't pay your house payment or buy your children things they need because you did the 'right thing' please feel free to write back and tell me how you feel then.
    This is the reality as things stand right now. If I felt my patient was in real danger or had something done unnecessarily I would do what the nurse did in the story and would urgently suggest the patient seek a second opinion. If the patient could not speak for themselves I would address my concerns with the family and I'm all for writing anonymous letters to people who have the power to step in and do something about it. But what I will not do is allow my self to become the target to focus on by being bold and direct. NOPE! For those of you who think it is greedy for me and others like me to think about the fact that I need money to live, well I think you are naive not to think about it. I make a difference as much as I can without making waves. I wish things were different, but they are not. For those of you who think I'm being to cynical or negative; I think your over positive thinking is why the world is as it is today. Everyone wants to be positive, talk positive, think positive. EVERYTHING is NOT positive all the time. The fact that I realize that and am willing to talk about it in a frank manner without putting a positive spin to it, I believe, is admirable. Notice that I'm only willing to do it while I remain anonymous though as I get shot down much when I speak up as myself. Also, just because this is the reality of the way things are does not mean that I don't have hope for improvement or that I'm not positive about the future. I'm all for whistleblowing....as long as it is a dog whistle. :P
    lindarn, karenchad, and zuzi like this.
  3. 5
    Facing the hurtles you bring up is, I'm sure, the reason why people don't speak up, even when presented with the opportunity to do the right thing (such as supporting a co-worker when you know they're right).

    Does it make it right? No. The root of the problem lies in the lack of people willing to stand up for what's right. Management knows that there are more people who would keep their mouths shut than there are people who will say something, hence why when the few who are willing to stand up finally do say something, they are told to keep quiet or start looking for a new job.

    It's up to the individual on how they wish to approach something they feel is wrong, and that choice will remains all theirs and will likely depend upon the situation. For example, if you were working with the doctor who "tortured" women in labor or the doctor who referred healthy patients to surgery, it's great you can pay for your car and your mortgage, but just know you're paying for it with the suffering of innocent patients. It's your own prerogative if you can live with that, but you're every bit as guilty as that doctor, even if it's for good intentions (see "accessory" if you'd like to argue that point).

    It would be interesting to hear peoples stories of ways that they've spoke up without getting themselves fired; maybe different techniques or ways they've approached management and the outcomes. That should be the ultimate goal - make a positive change while retaining your position.
    libbyliberal, momology, lindarn, and 2 others like this.
  4. 1
    Another thing to keep in mind, and once again this applies to all job fields, is that when it comes to any kind of change, whether it's a trivial idea or outright whistleblowing, that it's often not how good the idea is or how serious the charge is that's being levied, that whether those in authority take action depends on WHO it was that made the suggestion.

    My department has a couple of people whose ideas are ALWAYS implemented, and almost always discarded because they are worthless or worse, regardless of how terrible they are or how much opposition there is to using them.
    lindarn likes this.
  5. 1
    Quote from maxattack
    facing the hurtles you bring up is, i'm sure, the reason why people don't speak up, even when presented with the opportunity to do the right thing (such as supporting a co-worker when you know they're right).

    does it make it right? no. the root of the problem lies in the lack of people willing to stand up for what's right. management knows that there are more people who would keep their mouths shut than there are people who will say something, hence why when the few who are willing to stand up finally do say something, they are told to keep quiet or start looking for a new job.

    it's up to the individual on how they wish to approach something they feel is wrong, and that choice will remains all theirs and will likely depend upon the situation. for example, if you were working with the doctor who "tortured" women in labor or the doctor who referred healthy patients to surgery, it's great you can pay for your car and your mortgage, but just know you're paying for it with the suffering of innocent patients. it's your own prerogative if you can live with that, but you're every bit as guilty as that doctor, even if it's for good intentions (see "accessory" if you'd like to argue that point).

    it would be interesting to hear peoples stories of ways that they've spoke up without getting themselves fired; maybe different techniques or ways they've approached management and the outcomes. that should be the ultimate goal - make a positive change while retaining your position.
    some managers and management styles respond very well to suggestions for improvement in a process made by staff. i find that my success, as a staff nurse, in getting things changed while maintaining a healthy work environment is directly related to the management culture of that employer. if you don't like a process, suggest a way that it might be improved. some will encourage you to flesh out an alternative process and will consider change. others will interrupt your very first comments with excuses as to why your ideas "won't work here".

    you have to decide if the processes you would like to see "tweaked" are important enough that you will be too irritated if you are not allowed voice in their revision. chronic irritation leads to burn out.
    lindarn likes this.
  6. 2
    Rph3664, you're completely right and it drives me insane. It usually comes down to the politics and who likes who. Sometimes you do get lucky and you find an environment, like tewdles mentions, that's open to suggestion and change. The entire staff tends to be much happier, and it's amazing that more management teams can't seem to figure something that simple out.

    Taken from the restaurant industry, when dealing with management would couldn't care about improving conditions and won't listen to their employees, I find if I talk their language ($$), I'm much more likely to get an idea implemented. For example, if I mention how my new idea will increase efficiency and save X amount of money a day and Y amount of money a year based off experience at a prior restaurant, they usually perk up nicely, especially when part of their bonus is based off employee cost control.
    lindarn and tewdles like this.


Top