8 Recent Retaliation Lawsuits Against Hospitals
1. Breast Cancer Surgeon Sues University of New Mexico for Systematic Retaliation
Anne Marie Wallace, MD, a breast cancer surgeon and research at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, is suing her former employer, alleging she was fired after reporting substandard care. Following her complaints, Dr. Wallace was allegedly subjected to systematic retaliation by her supervisors who intended to cut her research hours, harm her academic career and remove her position from the university's Cancer Research and Treatment Center. UNM has denied any connection between the connection and complaints Dr. Wallace may or may not have made.
2. Neurosurgeon Says New York's Upstate Medical University Fired Him Over Whistleblowing
Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., and neurosurgeon William A. Stewart have conflicting claims over why Dr. Stewart's employment was terminated. Upstate claims Dr. Stewart refused to cooperate in an investigation into an intentional breach of confidential information, including private patient care records. Dr. Stewart, however, claims he never disclosed private patient information and instead was fired for whistleblowing, when he filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Health alleging misconduct by two upstate physicians.
3. California Physician Sues Hospital for Retaliation After He Charged Poor Quality of Care
Dennis Wilcox, MD, a physician and director of Hi-Desert Memorial Health Care District in Joshua Tree, Calif., has filed a lawsuit alleging the medical center, hospital district and its leaders violated his civil rights and retaliated against him when he voiced concerns of "substandard" care at the hospital. Dr. Wilcox claims district and medical committee reported him to the California Medical Board, with intention to revoke his medical license, and other Hi-Desert physicians made deliberate attempts to harm his practice. The hospital district's attorney issued a statement, saying Hi-Mount finds the lawsuit to be both procedurally and substantively meritless, according to the report.
4. Nurse Claims San Antonio Hospital Fired Her For Reporting "Abortion" to Archdiocese
A nurse from San Antonio-based Christus Santa Rosa Health System has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic system, claiming it knowingly allowed an abortion to be performed in 2009 and later fired her out of retaliation after she reported it to the Archdiocese of San Antonio. CSRHS said the nurse was mistaken about the medical procedure, which did not violate Catholic teachings, and that her firing was not out of retaliation, but for violating patient privacy laws by revealing medical records to archdiocesan officials.
5. LSU Medical Center Settles Retaliation Allegations After Firing Whistleblowers
LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, La., settled a lawsuit brought forward by a nurse and orthopedic surgeon who blew the whistle on the medical center and claim to be fired in retaliation. William Overdyke, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, and Susan Hodnett, RN, were fired after they filed a lawsuit alleging some medical school faculty billed Medicare for procedures they did not perform. As part of the settlement, LSU agreed to pay $120,000 in damages to Dr. Overdyke and $80,000 to Ms. Hodnett — along with the $700,000 it has already paid the U.S. government for the original false claims suit.
6. Illinois Hospital Erred in Firing Lab Tech in U.S. Army Reserves, High Court Says
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in favor of a former hospital lab technician who said he was fired due to his U.S. Army Reserve commitments. Vincent Staub said his supervisor at Proctor Hospital in Peoria, Ill., put him on different shifts without notice in retaliation for an Army Reserve training schedule that disrupted the hospital department's schedule. Mr. Staub was eventually fired after working at Proctor for 15 years. Finding no connection between the discrimination and the firing, the appeals court in the case found for the hospital. The Supreme Court disagreed with the appeals decision and is leaving it up to the lower courts to decide whether to grant a new trial or reinstate the original jury verdict in favor of Mr. Staub.
7. Cardiac Chief, Others File Suit Against California Hospital Alleging Discrimination After Speaking Out Against Substandard Care
In October, the chief of cardiac surgery at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif., along with a cardiologist and medical administrative assistant in the cardiology department, filed suit against the hospital and several hospital leaders claiming workplace discrimination after they spoke out about "substandard care" at the facility. The suit claims the three experienced retaliation by being ignored, embarrassed and verbally abused after filing complaints with The Joint Commission in response to the incidents. The suit further alleged inappropriate sexual jokes and misanthropy at the hospital. The hospital denied any negligence or discrimination.
8. Lawsuit Against UT Southwestern Medical Center to Move Forward
In July, Larry Gentilello, MD, filed a lawsuit against Dallas' University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for demoting him after complaining about laidback supervision of residents and billing fraud. After coming forward, Dr. Gentilello was demoted, and he argues it was in retaliation for voicing his concerns. UT Southwestern Medical Center moved to have the suit dismissed, claiming Dr. Gentilello did not qualify as a whistleblower; however, the court found that the physician's alert to Dr. Rege was sufficient enough. The medical center is denying any wrongdoing in this case.
© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2015. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.
To receive the latest hospital and health system business and legal news and analysis from Becker's Hospital Review, sign-up for the free Becker's Hospital Review E-weekly by clicking here.
New from Becker's Hospital Review