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Sterling Employment Law

Detroit hospital and parent company targeted in whistleblower case

A statement released by a Detroit medical center bases justification for its firing of multiple nurses on alleged “employee admissions of violations of patients’ rights to privacy.”

The terminated nurses – four emergency department employees at Sinai-Grace Hospital – make contrasting claims.

The bottom line, they say, is that they were wrongfully terminated in May for their spotlighting of multiple hospital practices that materially endangered patients’ safety.  Their claims relate specifically to alleged facility shortcomings concerning coronavirus-linked medical care.

Those claimed deficiencies are detailed in a wrongful termination lawsuit the nurses filed recently against the hospital and parent company Tenet Health. The plaintiffs contend that Texas-based Tenet violated the worker safeguards provided under the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act when it summarily terminated their employment.

The nurses readily admit that they openly spoke out and heavily criticized hospital policies and treatment that they say unnecessarily placed patients at great risk. They staunchly deny, though, hospital claims that they leaked impermissible images of dead patients in body bags stored inappropriately in the facility.

The litigants’ complaint rests centrally on the assertion that the firings were solely a retaliatory response to their calling out of unlawful company practices and short-sighted policy. One of the nurses especially condemned facility managers for “a lack of staff, lack of equipment, lack of PPE [personal protective equipment] and lack of leadership presence.”

The case is ongoing. It will unquestionably be followed closely by care practitioners, facility administrators and other principals within the health care community.

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