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Nurse says she was fired in retaliation for reporting ICU risks

A nurse working in a major hospital says that her mangers wrongfully terminated her after she registered concerns about sub-standard conditions in the neonatal intensive care unit. The nurse was hired in 2008 to work in the newly opened hospital and began noticing staffing and safety code issues. The problems were affecting patients and she complained to supervisors, as most concerned employees would do.

In this case, the safety issues that she saw were potentially fatal to the babies being treated in the hospital, who she says were being sent home too early when they were still sick and showed signs of jaundice. In one case, she says that a doctor she was working with did not order any blood work, an IV, or any monitoring for a baby who was showing clear signs of distress.

Shortly after she made these very serious concerns known, she was placed on administrative leave by the hospital's managers. Later, the managers accused her of improper patient care and suspended her without pay.

If these allegations are true, then the nurse was fired illegally for reporting legitimate concerns to her managers. Employees are protected from this type of firing by whistleblower laws.

Preserving and enforcing whistleblower protections are essential in cases like this, where lives are quite seriously on the line if the hospital does not acknowledge the risks and act.

Employees who are fired for reporting misconduct or illegal activity are able to recover in an employment law action in some cases and may attempt to be reinstated into their job or a similar job.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Fired for Reporting ICU Risks, Kaiser Nurse Says," William Dotinga, Feb. 12, 2013.

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