Nurses Speak Up
You may recall that previously I had written about Julie Griffin RN, a cardiovascular ICU nurse (CV ICU) who was working at an HCA Healthcare hospital in Plantation, Florida near Miami.
Ms. Griffin claims she was fired from her position as retaliation for making whistleblower complaints about short staffing at the facility. She was required to care for 3 cardiac patients at the same time, all who required continuous monitoring, a task that was impossible for her to safely do.
In one room, the screen could be split for data on only two patients, but there was no way to monitor data on a 3rd. Ms. Griffin claimed that this situation violated the physician’s order for continuous monitoring as there was no full-time staff at the nurses’ station to constantly monitor telemetry for all CVICU patients. Meanwhile, the unit had 2 patients die because they were not being continuously monitored.
On the day she was asked to accept a 3rd patient, another nurse was assigned to just 1 patient. Ms. Griffin refused this request and, as a result, was placed on administrative leave and subsequently terminated.
What is interesting is that other nurses would accept a 3rd patient even though it was in violation of the hospital policy and physician order to continuously monitor all these patients.
Ms. Griffin did speak up and voiced her concerns to management and administration, truly expecting the problem of no continuous monitoring to be corrected but unfortunately, her concerns fell on deaf ears.
On a very positive note, although it was made months after her termination, Ms. Griffin’s complaints DID result in the hospital’s policy being changed to where nurses can now continuously monitor all CVICU patients!
I am sure that a number of nurses in that unit were afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs as that happened to Ms. Griffin. If we are complicit, the hospitals will walk all over us.
Fortunately, Ms. Griffin filed a complaint in Broward County, Florida regarding retaliation and termination for making whistleblower complaints. Before her matter could come to trial this past February, she and the hospital were able to successfully resolve this matter.
If you encounter a patient safety issue, don’t hesitate to speak up. It can be scary doing so because of the fear of losing your job. But, as I say, “You can always get another job, but you can’t get another license.”
Should you choose to file a complaint, note that different states can have their own laws regarding “whistleblowers.” They’re also available on an online site, the Joint Commission To Report Patient Safety. In the Radonda Vaught case, which I have reported on in other blogs, someone filed an anonymous complaint through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which brought her situation to light.
It’s unfortunate that with corporate health care, it seems that facilities are putting profits over patients. HCA Healthcare owns 185 hospitals in the nation and earned nearly $47,000,000,000.00 in 2018; the CEO was paid over $10,000,000.00 for her services during 2019 while that same year, the Chairman of HCA was paid over $20,000,000.00 for his services.
Also, over the last 20 years, HCA reportedly has paid out close to $2,000,000,000.00 in criminal and civil damages, penalties, fines, settlements, etc., for various fraudulent and illegal schemes.
Can you imagine how many additional nurses could be hired if even a portion of that $10,000,000.00 or $20,000,000.00 was available for patients to get the care that they deserve?