Can I Get Fired for Reporting the Mistreatment of a Patient?


You are a nurse, a doctor, or serve in any position that provides patient care. You put in the long hours to train for this profession and you went into healthcare because you care for patients and want to do what you can to help them through their difficult times.

Unfortunately, however, your employer may not always have the patients’ best interests at heart. Your employer may make some decisions that place profits over patients’ care. For instance, a clinic, nursing home, or rehab facility may charge for medical services that were not provided or provide medical services that were not necessary. Or your employer might not provide enough staff to take care of patients because of “budgetary issues.”

Your employer might also face a difficult decision when a mistake was made and attempt to cover up that mistake. You did not go into the healthcare profession to allow others to make decisions that put their own interests ahead of those of patients or residents.

The West Virginia Patient Safety Act Protects You

If you provide patient care in West Virginia and become aware of one of these difficult situations, the West Virginia Patient Safety Act protects you. The Patient Safety Act applies to employees, subcontractors, or independent contractors of “health care entities” who provide “direct patient care” to patients. The Patient Safety Act protects, among others, nurses, nurse’s aides, laboratory technicians, physicians, interns, residents, physician assistants, physical therapists and anyone else who provides “direct patient care.”

So, how does the Patient Safety Act protect You? If you report an issue that in any way deals with a patient’s safety or fraud, and your employer retaliates against you, you are protected by the Patient Safety Act.

Some common examples of a report of patient safety that would fall under the Patient Safety Act include (1) a nurse who works the nightshift in a nursing home and reports staffing issues; (2) a lab tech who reports the falsifying of test results; (3) an aide at a rehab facility that complains because the facility conducts many more urine tests than are necessary for appropriate care; (4) a therapist at a medical clinic that complains because her employer bills for medical services it did not provide; and (5) an employee at a nursing home who reports that sheets are not changed frequently and residents sometimes have to lie in dirty sheets for hours.

Under the Patient Safety Act, if conduct like this is reported, the employer cannot retaliate against the employee for standing up for patients who may not be able to stand up for themselves. Some forms of unlawful retaliation include terminating the employee, reducing the employee’s hours, or drastically changing the employees work conditions.

Importantly, a “report” under the Patient Safety Act need not be to an outside governmental agency. Often, Patient Safety Act claims are based on internal reports where a healthcare worker reports a patient safety issue to his or her employer in an effort to correct the underlying issue.

You May Have a Claim Under the West Virginia Patient Safety Act

If an employer retaliates against you for doing the right thing and reporting your concerns regarding the safety of your patients or fraud, you may have a claim under the West Virginia Patient Safety Act. Under the Patient Safety Act, an employee who is fired for reporting a patient safety issue may recover for their lost wages and emotional distress.

If you have lost your job or been demoted because you reported patient safety issues, contact an employment lawyer, like Rod Smith Law PLLC, to consult regarding your rights. We have successfully fought for several healthcare workers who have similarly stood up for their patients and obtained justice on their behalf.

We have nearly two decades of experience helping people like you seek fair and just compensation after their rights were violated at work. You can take advantage of our free confidential consultation to tell us about your claim and learn about the legal options we can help you use. You do not pay Rod Smith Law PLLC any fees unless we win.

For more information or to schedule your free consultation, please contact us online today.

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