Could you be a whistleblower?

  1. 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. The lawsuit helped save her profession, but she had to sue her own organization to get the compensation she was promised.
    Two nurse anesthetists sacrificed their careers in a legal battle to save their profession, only to find themselves left behind again by their own organization.
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    About alan headbloom

    Joined: Jul '08; Posts: 78; Likes: 86
    Consultant, Cross-Cultural Medicine


  3. by   MassED
    not worth it - should've been anonymous - That situations stinks, and I would imagine having their name out there (the nurse anesthetists), will, unfortunately, suffer within that community. It's unfair. Where will they work now? Those dishonest practices by those physician groups and that hospital are not surprising. I would imagine that if I were in that same boat, I would want to whistleblow anonymously. You do have your own financial well being to think of, as well as your family and your own future.
  4. by   MaxAttack
    Anonymous tip-offs are hard to prosecute because of the inability to examine witnesses. What they did was incredibly selfless and noble, especially if the case was so important as to "save their profession."

    I might try an anonymous tip-off and see where it gets me, but if it truly saved their profession, without stepping forward they could have lost their jobs anyway. It doesn't really explain much. It sounds like MANA had agreed to compensate them for the loss of their jobs in exchange for fighting Allina Health Care and that's why the sued MANA. If that was the case, then it should serve as warning for similar scenarios in the future - if someone agrees to compensate you for something, have it writing before moving forward.
  5. by   RN1982
    Whistleblowers should never be afraid.
  6. by   Chico David RN
    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?
  7. by   Cindy-san
    @Chico David RN - what awful stories! To think people take oaths not to harm and still do such horrible things.
    People like that make me sick.

    And then the ones that try to help the patients get punished. :angryfire
  8. by   presey
    makes me sick too, but alot of people go into healthcare for the $$ not to give of their natural talents or professional care, i have heard alot of rn college students salivating at the $$ they will make as an rn, corruption is in all professions, just a fact.:icon_roll
  9. by   Chico David RN
    Quote from presey
    makes me sick too, but alot of people go into healthcare for the $$ not to give of their natural talents or professional care, i have heard alot of rn college students salivating at the $$ they will make as an rn, corruption is in all professions, just a fact.:icon_roll
    I do see a few too many nurses these days who are motivated by money - the flip side of the decent wages that have come to nursing in the last few years. Fortunately we don't have the opportunity for multi-million dollar corruption that some physicians have. And then the other side is someone like me: I was a dairy farmer who sort of stumbled into nursing almost by accident, mostly motivated by the job security. I discovered whole sides of myself I never knew existed, and feel deeply committed to the profession. Nursing is not just a job, it's who and what I am. I can't honestly say I found the service part until I was already in the profession.
  10. by   KalipsoRed
    I'm sorry, but I won't snitch EVER....well probably not anyway. People need to wake up and realize that we do not live in a faery tale! Playing the game according to the rules will not put you ahead! I'm not saying that people aren't mostly good, etc. What I'm saying is the people in power want power and will do what is necessary to maintain it. Those of us who are honest and do what is 'right' are manipulated by those in power to get them what they want. We are easy to use because we want to be helpful and nice. Well I'm not playing the game anymore.
    I want to be a noble, honest, helpful person, but I won't give up a roof over my head and food on the table to do it. And frankly I have rarely, if ever, seen someone who did the absloute right thing make out well for their efforts. An anonmyous tip I can handle, whoever I report it to needs to come up with the hard core evidence without using me.
  11. by   RN1982
    I don't have a problem with people going into nursing for the money as long as they provide compassionate and competent care.
  12. by   FLmomof5
    Evil prevails when good men (and women) do nothing.
  13. by   classicdame
    I would snitch, if I had real evidence. At least, I believe I would (hard to say till the situation is at hand).
  14. by   Chico David RN
    Quote from classicdame
    I would snitch, if I had real evidence. At least, I believe I would (hard to say till the situation is at hand).
    I have to say gently, that I am very uncomfortable with the use of the term "snitch" here. Choice of words can be powerful things and this word implicitly accepts the sort of 'honor among thieves' ethic that keeping your mouth shut about a crime is honorable and reporting it to the authorities is dishonorable. As nurses, our first allegience must be to our patients. They place enormous trust in us. I would not necessarily report a person or institution for violating a technical rule, but fraud or anything that violates the patients' trust, we have an absolute obligation to report.