Employment: Technician Fired after Attempt to Report Patient Care Concern

October 1, 2011 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​An Ohio appeals court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against a hospital brought by an emergency department (ED) technician who claimed that he was wrongfully terminated for alerting a patient to potential mistreatment. The plaintiff was employed by the hospital as a paramedic whose job functions included monitoring psychiatric patients and patients in restraints in the ED.

When the technician was observing a patient who had been restrained due to intoxication and violent behavior, the patient asked the technician to remove a catheter that had been attached by several inches of tape to his upper thigh. Believing that the patient had been mistreated, the technician wanted to report his observation of the taped catheter to hospital management. He asked the charge nurse for permission to photograph the patient's leg showing the taped catheter. She allegedly responded, "Just go ahead and deal with it."  He obtained the patient's oral consent, photographed the patient with his personal cell phone, and showed the photograph to the ED nurse manager. He was then summoned to a meeting in which he claimed a human resources employee expressed concern that his actions exposed the hospital to potential liability. His employment was terminated for violating hospital policy...

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