Colorado nurses who blew whistle sue Swedish Medical Center

  1. Colorado nurses who blew whistle sue Swedish Medical Center
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    Three nurses who cared for the sickest babies at Swedish Medical Center claim they were fired for reporting what they believed was unsafe care, including a pacifier taped to a baby's mouth.

    Their lawsuit is among the first to test a 2007 state law that protects health care workers who "blow the whistle" on dangerous conditions.

    The three workers-all supervisory "charge nurses" in the intensive-care nursery-allege they were terminated for clashing with supervisors about safety concerns. The women say the hospital lacked enough "level three" nurses with the skills to medicate, resuscitate and care for premature babies.

    But when they complained to superiors, the nurses "were met with a brick wall," said Penelope Clor, their attorney.

    Swedish officials said the nurses' claims are false and that the hospital "does not discriminate against its employees nor does it retaliate against them."

    Hospital spokeswoman Julie Lonborg declined to share details, citing the pending litigation, but said: "We certainly disagree with the allegations made by the three former employees, and we will vigorously defend ourselves."

    Attorneys for the nurses and HealthOne, which owns Swedish, were scheduled to talk about settling the case Friday.

    "Our clients are extremely traumatized by what they perceive as a betrayal," said Cathy Klein, another attorney for the nurses.

    The lawsuit alleges that the charge nurses-Jan Arnott, Peggy Dutton-Graber and Monica Teuscher-also were targeted because they were at the top of the pay scale. All three were fired in the fall of 2007 after requesting to step down as charge nurses and return to bedside-nursing duties.

    Among other concerns, attorneys for the nurses claim a lower-level nurse who was not qualified to care for ill preemies almost gave a baby a dosage of medicine that could have been deadly.

    HealthOne denied in a legal response to the federal lawsuit that the nurses had reported specific safety concerns in the intensive-care nursery, including the taped pacifier.

    The nurses' attorneys questioned whether Swedish ignored their safety concerns because it was expensive to train or hire more level-three nurses.

    All three nurses, who each had worked in the profession for at least 15 years, have struggled to find jobs since leaving Swedish. One is working two jobs and still not earning her old salary; the others work for a temporary-placement agency.

    The 2-year-old state law was passed to encourage health care workers to report legitimate safety concerns at work.
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    About blue note

    Joined: Apr '09; Posts: 1,211; Likes: 2,651

    18 Comments

  3. by   Aviationurse
    in my state, the nurses who are doing wrongdoing ie illegal stashing of 169 drugs/narcs gets promoted and the nurse who blew the whistle (yours truly) receive major threats so i just leave in peace for my own safety and so that my family will not be in imminent danger.
  4. by   MaritesaRN
    Quote from rockandrollrn
    in my state, the nurses who are doing wrongdoing ie illegal stashing of 169 drugs/narcs gets promoted and the nurse who blew the whistle (yours truly) receive major threats so i just leave in peace for my own safety and so that my family will not be in imminent danger.

    It looks like there is a pattern for this hospital. They need to be observed w/ a magnifying glass and see what is up. Considering their negligence it will be interesting to see if there were some lawsuits filed by patients, and since no mentioned of this , then maybe they paid them off ? There is a worm in this apple !!!!
  5. by   Aviationurse
    maritesa..this happened in state hospital...gave up my state job but saved taxpayers a lot of money...
  6. by   leslie :-D
    i don't care what the law says.
    employers will continue to bully, harrass and retaliate against anyone who tries to be a voice for the 'little guy'.
    seriously...
    talk is cheap.

    leslie
  7. by   Aviationurse
    so true...what about sniper bullets awaiting us as we leave our home....none of my nurse friends want to do whistle blow for the ff reasons
    1. to save job and work overtime at time and a half after 8 hours ( refuse to witness/ tell truth when state surveyors come)
    2 dont want to deal with lawyers , blah blah blah and gain nothing in the end

    i told my nurse friend that i should wear dark shades (extra large ) ones when i go to work (in next job position...i am jobless right now ) and also extra large tape on my mouth to "save" job in this tough economy :wink2:...gee...aint that something?
    Pls God Help us LTC nurses who are fired for no reason but do the job we are supposed to do and now are jobless... We ask your mercy, Lord......
  8. by   CityKat
    I've been deciding whether or not to go to law school to become a nurse lobbyist and protect nurses, their working conditions, pay scale and their jobs. This is what I see as yet, another "sign" telling me to get my JD and become a nurse lobbyist and protect my colleagues!

    This is atrocious and I hate seeing these types of things happen I hope good comes out of this.
  9. by   missyd1991
    Its to bad that the media hasn't jumped on this, then maybe the hospital would have to back off and take a look at their claims. I live in Colorado and there is a station in Denver that would love this story. I wish nothing but the best for these three nurses we need more like them.
  10. by   doesntlookgood
    If what they allege is true...

    GO GET 'EM.

    DON'T LET UP.

    What does that other fine organization, JCAHO have to say about all this?

    Oh, let's look at their website...

    15 Open Positions
    3 "Management"
    12 "Professional"

    6 of the "Professional" positions are less than full-time.


    Physician?
    Heal Thyself.
  11. by   MaritesaRN
    Quote from rockandrollrn
    maritesa..this happened in state hospital...gave up my state job but saved taxpayers a lot of money...

    I admire you for getting out as soon as you saw what it was all about. There are some practices that is just not in your grain. I was asking about this too ,in case of a change of career, and one of the many responses from some nurses that worked in this area was so discouraging, although some seemed okay, but the sense of the majority of the response was, " get along or else........." . I sensed this , and for me I know I will not be able to work in this terms. I did not go into nursing to "barter" or even to "prostitute" my principles for a "secure" ( not secure anymore!) government jobs! These are the areas that needs to be overhauled anyway, since some of these places , have their own country and "laws". Kudos for your sensible choice !
  12. by   MaritesaRN
    Quote from missyd1991
    Its to bad that the media hasn't jumped on this, then maybe the hospital would have to back off and take a look at their claims. I live in Colorado and there is a station in Denver that would love this story. I wish nothing but the best for these three nurses we need more like them.

    Give them an anonymous tip and I bet you that they will love this type of "exposure" of the skeletons of that hospital.
  13. by   spartangal1989
    This is a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation that most nurses are put in regularly. Our state boards entrust us to protect and police each other, but if and when we do, hospitals do not support us. I hope the families of the children that had the overdose and the pacifer taped to its mouth know what happened and have sought legal advise. It seems only a big settlement makes the hospital systems pay attention and make changes
  14. by   Aviationurse
    our state board of nursing will not take anonmymous tip....sad case but this is the reality...thats why the abusive employers/ nurse managers/don/ nursing home administrators are able to act normal ....

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