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Wrongful Termination: As a Nurse, Who Can I Report To?

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

by Maggie Ortiz MSN RN Updated July 26, 2023


You stand up and do the right thing, and then you are wrongfully terminated. It is very scary when that happens, especially to those who are late in their careers, and most of us do not know what rights we have. There are other nurse advocates out there who discuss this topic as well and what recourse you can take.


There are nurses like Marian Weber RN and Sarah Collins RN both speaking out about holding organizations responsible. It is not an easy task by no means but you have trail blazers like these two and others out there willing TO DO THE WORK. "And there it is," (one of my many phrases) willing to DO THE WORK.


That means standing up and saying no, filing a safe harbor peer review, using the chain of command, refusing to take the patient all of it whatever resource you have available to you. We must take the power away from these organizations and hold them accountable by filing complaints and reporting them.


Filing a complaint for wrongful termination

I understand that it can seem so overwhelming to write something up and or file a complaint, especially when you are still thinking about your recent termination or worried about your career. It does not have to be that difficult. I teach this to patients and their families during my webinars (Click here to join the next webinar). You start with a simple 3-column table. 1st column date/time/place. 2nd column event/just the facts ma'am be detailed, bullet point, use numbers the emotion comes later. 3rd column evidence/source how are you supporting what you are saying. Was it a recording, video, the medical record, you were present as a witness.


You will use that and create it in a chronological manner inserting rows where needed. Gather all your information and whatever you collect along the way and add it to your table. You will need to develop an organizational system to reference easily. I discussed this in my webinar.


This will make things much easier as you go along and investigators and attorneys. Not only that if you are paying an attorney, the more organized you are, the less time they are going to have to take putting things in an organized fashion, and they get paid A LOT by the hour. I believe in the range of $300 - $1000/hour and if you do not have some form of insurance medical malpractice and or liability (reach out to a company and ask what you need), that is out of YOUR pocket.


Write Documents Like an RN

Presentation is everything right and what I used to tell my children. If we went to a restaurant and they slopped the food on the plate everything all mixed up with dessert on top. NO! They pride themselves on how it looks.


Don't do the same in your documents. They should be in a professional manner in a Word document or Google Document with your name and address and how to get a hold of you. Write it in a fashion that is inclusive but broad enough it can be sent to all types of organizations. Just remember not to include HIPPA information. BE SMART! Put emotion and use loaded words like DUTY and PATIENT SAFETY. Pull resources from the Joint Commission or Centers for Medicaid and Medicare.


Agencies Where You Can File a Report

CENTERS FOR MEDICAID AND MEDICARE AKA CMS

  • I would start here and fraud waste and abuse even of resources like a nurse might be reportable. Let them decide and hopefully, they will pay a visit. Hard to say what they might actually find when they are on site hopefully unannounced.

  • Do not underestimate the power of this organization. If the organization takes insurance they are bound to all the rules and regulations and can have their ability to bill for insurance removed, fined and continue to have CMS in their lives for a while. They are a powerful entity. Anything tied to their ability to collect reimbursement is a big deal and they do not want it. They are a business. No money, no business.

NATIONAL LABOR REGULATION BOARD AKA NLRB.

  • Report to them immediately. You have a short window.

  • 6-month window to report.

  • https://apps.nlrb.gov/MyAccount/#/ChargeAndPetition/TermsConditions

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION AKA OSHA

STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AKA HHS.

  • Centralized Case Management Operations U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Room 509F HHH Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20201

Email to OCRComplaint@hhs.gov

  • https://www.medicare.gov/talk-to-someone

STATE BOARD OF NURSING IN THE STATE THE INCIDENT OCCURRED

STATE BOARD OF MEDICINE IN THE STATE THE INCIDENT OCCURRED

  • No statute of limitation but should be done immediately.

  • there are Chief Medical Officers who oversee organizations do not under estimate their DUTY to patients and the organization.

  • If there is conduct to include verbal, physical and or sexual assault report it immediately. This is unprofessional conduct and we have a duty to report it.

STATE BOARD OF PHARMACY

  • If there are violations by the organization and or by the pharmacist they too have a board and their conduct should be reported.

  • The lack of a pharmacist on site.

THE JOINT COMMISSION AKA JCAHO

DEPARTMENT DEA - if control substance related

STATE HOSPITAL OMBUDSMAN/PATIENT ADVOCATE

  • Will be different in each state.

  • May be called something else in each state do a little research.

STATE HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION

OFFICE OF STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Internal complaints with risk management - at site and if agency/traveler with BOTH Corporate Compliance

  • Corporate Compliance

ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES AKA APS


CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES AKA CPS


CLIA - Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments

SOUTH CAROLINE HEALTH FACILITY AND CNA ABUSE

STATE ELDER ABUSE


Going the Social Media Route

Nowadays, it is easier to document and share things using your smartphone. So in cases such as yours, it is not a bad idea to share it on social media. As long as you did your homework and made a solid case, you can share it, wait and see. You might find other aggrieved persons that share your story.


You can do an FB or Google review. File a complaint to Better Business Bureau (BBB), or report to your state representative who holds office in the hospital district. Look up their contributors and board members. Email them all.

TIPS TO BUILD YOUR CASE


A. Print out and or email yourself the employee handbook immediately.

B. Print out and or email to yourself all your email communication.

C. Print out and or email all policies and procedures that are applicable.

D. Print out and or email yourself their mission statement.


Get your complaints in as soon as possible. If you are being asked to do something unsafe. Refuse, and then file a complaint by calling the state first. You need to get these complaints TIME-STAMPED so that you can show they were retaliating against you. Do not sit on these issues.


Be detailed, stay strong, and you can do this! I specialize in such cases and have helped the careers of several fellow nurses for years. You can always reach out to me if you need assistance with wrongful termination.

talking to a professional

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