When nurses and healthcare workers notice problems at their facilities such as unsafe patient care or dangerous working conditions, they have a responsibility to speak out. Unfortunately, in years past it has been all too common for healthcare workers who blow the whistle on a problem to be silenced, fired or blacklisted by the facilities they work for. This year California passed a new bill that hopes to change all that.
SB 322 is a bill that was sponsored by The California Nurses Association that amends the state’s Health Safety Code in order to encourage health care workers and patients to speak out against unsafe conditions and problems they notice at their facilities.
Here are some other facts you should know about the bill:
- The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law without any opposition.
- Under the new amendment, employees are protected when they speak privately with inspectors during a Department of Health investigation or inspection.
- Violation of the new law is a misdemeanor and warrants a fine of up to $75,000.
The state believes it is important for nurses and healthcare workers to have the right to speak with DOH officials privately because when management is present it can make employees less willing to speak openly and honestly. The result is that potential problems that could be addressed and fixed are often overlooked.
Problems in the Past with Healthcare Safety
Although California hopes protecting whistleblowers will improve the safety and quality of care in their health care facilities, the new law comes into effect after years of healthcare workers living in fear of speaking out.
Listed below are a few cases that demonstrate how dangerous it was for employees to speak out before the new bill:
- In 2015, a nurse in Oakland was fired because she warned that patient safety was being compromised by certain cost-cutting initiatives.
- In 2016, an employee was fired from a psychiatric hospital in Sonoma County for reporting multiple occurrences of patient sexual assault, self-harm and even a “full-blown patient riot.”
- A nurse at Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville, was physically assaulted for filing a report about hospital staffing.
Contact a Qualified Lawyer for a Consultation Today
At Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A., we have over three decades of experience fighting for clients who suffered because of the negligence of a doctor or healthcare provider. We have recovered more than a billion dollars for our clients fighting against big hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities who acted negligently. To consult with one of our attorneys, give us a call at 410-234-1000 or contact us online. We look forward to speaking with you.