Nurse sues HCA, alleges wrongful termination for understaffing complaints

A former nurse of Portsmouth (N.H.) Regional Hospital alleges she was fired in retaliation for complaining about systematic understaffing in the hospital's emergency department, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

Julie Stephens, RN, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the hospital's operator, Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare. The suit alleges the Portsmouth Regional ED was overcrowded and understaffed, and the environment led to the death of a patient. She alleges she made repeated complaints about the understaffing, and even wrote a letter to hospital CEO Dean Carucci in October 2018 about the issue, according to the report.

In February, Ms. Stephens was fired. She alleges she was fired after being falsely accused of trying to help a patient with mental health issues escape. The lawsuit alleges wrongful termination, malicious prosecution and violation of a law that protects whistleblowers, according to the report.

The hospital denies allegations of wrongful termination, understaffing and that a patient died due to understaffing, according to the report.

"When there is an issue involving patient safety we will act quickly and decisively to protect our patients and we are very comfortable with the decision to terminate this individual," the hospital said in a statement provided to the New Hampshire Union Leader.   

Read the full story here.


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