Terminated MedStar worker sues, claims action linked to criticism of hospital safety

An employee of Columbia, Md.-based MedStar Health filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the health system, claiming it fired her for tweeting that the hospital where she worked failed to follow CDC guidelines on COVID-19 symptom screening and social distancing. 

Sarah Cusick was a hearing and speech assistant at MedStar's Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center. She filed a lawsuit May 15 saying the hospital failed to protect patients and staff under federal and District of Columbia protocols, according to a news release from Bernabei & Kabat, a D.C.-based law firm representing Ms. Cusick.  

Ms. Cusick said the hospital failed to provide staff with personal protective equipment to screen patients and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms. She said they also failed to reschedule nonemergency appointments and appointments for high-risk patients and to practice social distancing in the hospital's cafeteria. The hospital also didn't adequately train staff on COVID-19 protocols, the lawsuit says. 

The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, claims Ms. Cusick alerted her supervisors of the breaches in protocol, but was ignored. 

After supervisors didn't take action to address the problems, Ms. Cusick said she took videos with her cellphone showing hospital personnel failing to follow screening and social-distancing guidelines and posted them to her Twitter account. 

Immediately after she posted the videos, the hospital terminated her employment, the lawsuit states.

MedStar told her she violated her social media contract as well as patient and employee rights under HIPAA, according to The Washington Post. 

MedStar also told Ms. Cusick her posts were damaging to the health system's brand, according to the lawsuit. 

So Young Pak, MedStar's director of media relations, told the Post that the hospital hasn't been served with the lawsuit and "cannot offer any comment."

Becker's Hospital Review has reached out to MedStar and will update this story accordingly. 

Read the law firm's full news release here.


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