How Can You Avoid a Whistleblower Suit?

In healthcare, and in many other industries, wrongdoings are often brought forward by internal personnel.

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Often, the employee who becomes the whistleblower tried to raise the issue internally before going outside the company.

In a recent incident, a nurse is suing his ex-employer following his termination. He said that he was fired in retaliation for reporting patient safety concerns at Kindred Hospital – San Antonio. The nurse said employees were afraid to stand up for patients for fear of retaliation.

In that case, that particular employee’s fear of retaliation led him to report the hospital to the Joint Commission, instead of working with his employer.

So how do you avoid a similar problem?

While it’s impossible to ensure that you will never have a whistleblower suit on your hands, you can take steps to make sure your employees’ concerns are acknowledged.

First, make sure your employees have a variety of ways to raise their concerns, including an anonymous option.

As part of your regular compliance training, make sure your employees know of all the ways to raise issues and let them know that you want them to come forward with concerns. If your employees bring their concerns forward, it can help you improve your practice, patient care, and working relationships.

Let employees know that you take concerns seriously and will fully investigate, and where necessary, remediate concerns.

When we work with practices and companies on their compliance plans, policies and procedures, or employee handbooks, we make sure to put in place robust internal reporting methods.

Stress the importance of open communication to your employees and then follow through. You can’t expect your employees to believe you, if you don’t take the time to actually listen and address concerns.

Busy practices will often have an attorney investigate and address employee concerns, to have impartiality and attorney client privilege. This also lets your employees know you take their concerns seriously, when an outsider is brought in to investigate.

Having open communication with your employees will lead to better working relationships and a better overall company.

Comment below and let us know how you make sure your employees’ concerns are heard!

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