WHISTLEBLOWING NORWALK SOCIAL WORKER AT NURSING HOME WRONGFULLY TERMINATED
On or about August of 1995, the Plaintiff was hired by Defendant, as their Director of Social Services earning approximately $36,000.00 per year from said Defendant.
Throughout the Plaintiff's employment, at ethics committee meetings, said Defendant's administrator and CEO, Irving Berlin, would always tell the Plaintiff that he did not want to discuss doctor's care, nursing care, or patient care at these meetings despite the fact that the Plaintiff and Geriatric Doctor, also on the committee, said that the purpose of the ethics committee was to discuss these issues.
Beginning on or about late Spring of 1996, until her termination, the Plaintiff began complaining to Irving Berlin about more than 30 separate incidents of improper patient care. The instances of improper care involved issues relating to patients receiving less than full care and situations that endangered the health and safety of the patient as well as the patient's co-residents. Berlin' response to these complaints would typically be that he did not want the Plaintiff to get involved in these issues even though she was the social worker, and that Berlin did not want to continue hearing about these issues.
On or about November of 1997, the Plaintiff called the Health Department and said that she had been in the secured dementia unit of said Defendant when a CNA brought over a rat that she had killed and told the Plaintiff that every night there were rats running down the hallways. The CNA then showed the Plaintiff rat droppings on a patient's dresser. The Plaintiff reported all of this to the maintenance supervisor and the administrator, Irving Berlin. To Berlin, the Plaintiff explained that this was an ongoing problem, and she questioned Berlin as to why the housekeeping, maintenance, and nursing had not brought this to the attention of supervisors of these departments. Moreover, the Plaintiff stated that this issue was not being remedied. Berlin' response was that this issue was maintenance's concern. The Plaintiff's response was this is an ongoing problem that needs different treatment than has been occurring up to now. Not satisfied with Berlin' response, on or about November of 1997, the Plaintiff reported the rodent situation to the Health Department. When the Health Department came out, on or about November 1997, the Plaintiff was interviewed by them and she stated, amongst other things, that the dead rat was thrown into a normal garbage can.
Between November of 1997 and May of 1998, the Plaintiff complained to said Defendant's management about numerous issues of what the Plaintiff perceived to be bad care. These issues included complaining to Berlin that a patient with a 24 hour nurse should have been in skilled nursing, that another patient should be in a more monitored, and possibly a locked down facility, because the patient was wandering into traffic, and that another patient had threatened staff and patients with scissors, this was putting the other patients at risk and despite the fact that the patient's family did not want the patient placed into a higher unit of care this patient should have been. Berlin stated that the scissor patient's family was most important and because they did not want their family member placed into a different level of care, the patient would remain in that level of care. During this same time frame, the Plaintiff also complained to Berlin that contrary to legal requirements, there was not a licensed nurse on premises, at all times, in each of the separate facilities. Berlin' response to this was that if anybody from the state came in, they would just be told that there was a nurse assigned to that facility. In response to the Plaintiff's complaint about the patient who was on oxygen the whole day, Berlin told the Plaintiff that the facility would just cover up and say that the patient is not on oxygen the whole day. During this time frame, the Plaintiff also complained to Berlin that a nurse from the Philippines was giving medications that are prescription medications in California, to patients, that she had obtained in the Philippines.
On or about the Spring of 1997, a patient had her foot amputated. This amputation was because said Defendant's nursing staff had been treating the wrong foot, and was not attending to the right foot. The Plaintiff told DON, said Defendant's Director of Nursing as well as Irving Berlin that the nursing staff should take responsibility for this grievous error. Both Director of Nursing and Berlin' response was that the family of the patient will never sue because they're such nice people, and so they should not be informed that the wrong foot was being treated. After the foot was amputated, the Plaintiff called the Department of Health and told them that on the Department's last survey a particular patient's foot was not being treated properly and the nurses were being questioned about getting proper care. The Plaintiff stated that the patient's foot was then amputated because the foot was not properly taken care of. The Plaintiff also said that she wanted the Department to come out because a patient had recently died and there was a feeling amongst nursing that this patient had been drowned with too much fluid and was not being fed properly. The Health Department then responded to this call and pulled this patient's chart.
On or about 4-23-98, the Plaintiff became informed that a non-responsive resident's entire body had been covered with ants. After it appeared that nobody was looking into this matter, the Plaintiff told the Day Nursing Supervisor about this. The Plaintiff told the Day Nursing Supervisor that there was not anything in the charts about this. The supervisor's response was "we don't ever put anything bad in the charts." The Plaintiff told the nursing supervisor that was against the regulations of the State of California. Still, a few days later, nobody was informed that the patient had been extensively covered with ants including this patient's eyes, inside the patient's ears, and on the patient's genitals. This was after the Plaintiff had told the Day Supervisor that the patient's doctor should have been notified, and that the charts should have had the incident documented. On the 27th of April, the patient's chart indicated that skin irritation was noted on G tube site which is where the ants had been. The Plaintiff, however, wrote on this patient's care plan "ants found in residents' body especially on g2 site."
On or about 5-5-98, the Plaintiff called the Health Department about the ant incident, identified herself, and told them to look at the social service notes because nobody else in the facility documented this. When the Department of Health came out, on or about 5-28-98, they asked how long the patient went without being check on being that there were reports that the patient's entire body was covered with ants. The next day, after the Health Department left, the Plaintiff was terminated, and this was 5-29-98.
Plaintiff, social worker, is informed, believes, and based thereon, alleges the named Defendants, and all DOE Defendants, terminated the Plaintiff in violation of public policy by terminating the Plaintiff in violation of the following statutes because the Plaintiff made the complaints described in Paragraphs 6-12 of this healthcare whistleblower lawsuit, to Berlin, and other managerial agents and supervisors of said Defendants, and where plead to the Department of Health, that said Defendants, and each of them, were engaging in conduct which violated each of the below statutes:
- a. California Health and Safety Code Section 1599 which sets forth a legislative intent to provide patients in skilled nursing and intermediate nursing facilities with fundamental human rights. The Plaintiff alleges that she complained about conduct that violates this statute when she raised issues about care as alleged in Paragraph 6 of this healthcare whistleblower lawsuit and Berlin said that he did not want to hear about these issues, as alleged in Paragraph 7 of healthecare whistleblower’s complaint that the Plaintiff complained to Berlin about some 30 separate incidents of improper care, as alleged in Paragraph 8 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient's room was not being kept free from rodents and rodent droppings, as alleged in Paragraph 9 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient with a 24 hour nurse needed to be in skilled nursing, that another patient needed to be more closely monitored because that patient was walking into traffic, that another patient threatened a staff member and patients with scissors, that there was not a licensed nurse on premises at all times, that a patient who was on constant oxygen was in an inappropriate level of nursing, as alleged in Paragraph 10 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient's incorrect foot was being treated and was amputated as a result, as alleged in Paragraph 11 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient's entire body and feeding tube was covered with ants;
- b. California Health and Safety Code Section 1599.1 which states that one of the fundamental rights patients in intermediate and skilled nursing facilities shall have is to be in a facility that has an adequate number of qualified personnel, that each patient shall show evidence of good hygiene, the facility shall provide quality care, and that the facility shall be clean, sanitary, and in good repair. The Plaintiff alleges that she complained about conduct that violates this statute when she raised issues about care as alleged in Paragraph 6 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint and Berlin said that he did not want to hear about these issues, as alleged in Paragraph 7 of healthcare whistleblower’s lawsuit that the Plaintiff complained to Berlin about some 30 separate incidents of improper care, as alleged in Paragraph 8 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient's room was not being kept free from rodents and rodent droppings, as alleged in Paragraph 9 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient with a 24 hour nurse needed to be in skilled nursing, that another patient needed to be more closely monitored because that patient was walking into traffic, that another patient threatened a staff member and patients with scissors, that there was not a licensed nurse on premises at all times, that a patient who was on constant oxygen was in an inappropriate level of nursing, as alleged in Paragraph 10 of healthcare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient's incorrect foot was being treated and was amputated as a result, as alleged in Paragraph 11 of healthecare whistleblower’s complaint that a patient's entire body and feeding tube was covered with ants.
- c. California Health and Safety Code Section 1418.6 which requires that no long term health care facility shall accept or retain any patient whom it cannot provide adequate care for as
the Plaintiff told Berlin was occurring because there were patients in the wrong levels of care for their health needs, but whom Berlin would not provide the right level of care for because he was allowing their families to dictate where the patient should be placed when the family members were not qualified to make these decisions. The Plaintiff further alleges that she complained of conduct violating this statute when she complained that there should be nurses in skilled nursing at all times;
- d. California Business and Professions Code Section 2051 that states that a physician's certificate authorizes a physician to use drugs in attending to the treatment of diseases, injuries, deformities, and other physical and mental conditions. This statute does not allow a nurse to prescribe or furnish prescription medications, without doctors orders to do so, or to treat patients as they see fit in contradiction to doctors' orders, and also Section 73313(g) of Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations which states that no medication or treatment shall be given except on the order of a person lawfully authorized to give such an order. The Plaintiff alleges that she complained to Berlin about violations of this statute and regulation when the Plaintiff complained to Berlin about the Filipino nurse who was passing out medications she obtained from the Philippines to patients who were not prescribed these medications. Additionally, the Plaintiff complained about violations of this statute and regulation when she complained that doctor's orders were not being followed in that the patient's wrong foot was being treated;
- e. California Health and Safety Code Section 1275 which gives the State Health Department the authority to adopt rules and regulations (including the below citations to Title 22) necessary or proper to carry out the purposes and intent of the chapter in which Section 1275 is contained in;
f. California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Article 3, Et. Seq. and specifically:
CASE RESULT: A FORMER STATE SENATOR HELPED RESOLVE THE CASE FOR APPROXIMATELY $200,000 2014 DOLLARS, AND THE CASE BECAME KNOWN TO MEDICAL DOCTORS WITHIN A 40 MILE RADIUS OF THE RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY THE SOCIAL WORKER WAS FIRED FROM
- 1. Title 22 Section 72315(b) and Section 72527 which requires that facilities such as said Defendant must treat each patient with dignity and respect, and by failing to rid the patients' room of rodents and rats, failing to exercise even a quantum of care towards the patient whose foot was amputated because the wrong foot was being treated, failing to place patients in the proper units of care that had the end result of the patient threatening the other patient with scissors, and failing to rid the patient's room of ants before the ants went into the crevices of his body, these patients were not treated with dignity and respect;
- 2. Title 22 Section 72315(d) which requires that facilities such as said Defendant provide treatment showing evidence of good hygiene, and by allowing the patient to become covered with ants, especially near the feeding tube, said Defendant was not doing so;
- 3. The Plaintiff's complaint about the patient who was on oxygen the entire day was a complaint about said Defendant's conduct that violated Title 22 Section 87703 of the California Code of Regulations which indicates that it is unlawful for a facility to maintain a patient who mentally or physically is incapable of operating oxygen equipment;
- 4. complaining that the different facilities in said Defendant were not staffed in accordance with Title 22 Section 87581 which requires that there be at least 1 RN or LVN on duty on the premises, and another capable of responding within 10 minutes of being called. This also violated Title 22 Section 72301 because the definition of a skilled nursing facility is a nursing facility that provides skilled nursing and if there is no nurse on duty then skilled nursing cannot be provided;
- 5. complaining that in the residential care facility for the elderly, there were patients incapable of administrating their own medications, persons with more than mild problems such as forgetfulness and wandering, irritability, and confusion which violates Title 22 Section 87582 of the California Code or Regulations. The Plaintiff complained to Berlin about conduct that violates this regulation when she complained about the patient who was wandering into traffic, the patient who was threatening the staff and residents with scissors, and the patient who had a 24 hour nurse;
- g. California Business and Professional Code Section 2262 which prohibits healthcare professionals such as the Defendant's nursing staff from fraudulently altering, modifying, or creating a false medical record as occurred by purposefully not documenting the fact that the patient was covered with ants when such a dramatic infestation of a non-alert human is unquestionably worthy of documentation. The Plaintiff alleges that by failing to properly document that the patient's foot was amputated because the wrong foot was being treated, this code section was also violated. This code section was further violated by allowing the patient's medical records to reflect that the correct foot was being treated;
- h. California Penal Code Section 471.5 which makes it a misdemeanor for anybody to fraudulently or intentionally create a false medical record. The Plaintiff alleges that by failing to properly document that the patient's foot was amputated because the wrong foot was being treated, this code section was violated. This code section was also violated by allowing the patient's medical records to reflect that the correct foot was being treated. The Plaintiff also alleges that said Defendant's nursing staff knew that they were creating a false medical record, by not nothing anything, especially after the Plaintiff told them that they were, by failing to document on the medical record that the patient had ants all over his body and near the feeding tube;
- i. 42 C.F.R. Section 483.15(a) which requires that facilities such as said Defendant must promote care for residents in a manner and in an environment that maintains or enhances each resident's dignity and respect, and by failing to place residents in the proper levels of care and allowing residents' rooms to be infested with ants and rodents, and the patient's body to be infested with ants, said Defendant was not maintaining, or enhancing the dignity of the patients;
- j. 42 C.F.R. Section 483.20(h) which requires that facilities such as said Defendant provide safe, clean, comfortable, and homelike environments for residents, and by failing to place residents in the proper levels of care and allowing residents' rooms to be infested with ants and rodents, and their bodies to be infested with ants, said Defendant was not maintaining, or enhancing the dignity of the patients;
- k. 42 C.F.R. Section 483.25 which requires that facilities such as said Defendant provide care and services necessary to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well being of their patients. By failing to place residents in the proper levels of care, allowing residents' rooms to be infested with ants and rodents and for their bodies to be infested with ants, failing to maintain proper nursing staff, allowing nurses to pass out medications from the Philippines that are not prescribed to patients, failing to treat the resident's correct foot to the point that one of her feet was amputated, said Defendant was not maintaining, or enhancing the dignity of the patients, and said Defendant was not following this regulation;
- l. 42 C.F.R. 483.70 by not properly maintaining a physical environment that was free of rodents and ants in patient rooms;
- k. Section 483.75 of Title 22 for not providing and maintaining clinical records on each resident in accordance with accepted professional standards and practices that are complete and accurately documented by not correctly documenting the patient's foot condition, the fact that the wrong foot was being treated, and that the other patient was covered with ants but that patient's medical records did not reflect this;
- l. section 6300 of the California Labor Code by discharging the Plaintiff and discriminating and retaliating against the Plaintiff for reporting the unhealthful conditions at the Defendant's facility, including there being a severe rat and ant problem;
- m. sections 6310 and 6311, of the California Labor Code by retaliating, discriminating, and eventually discharging the Plaintiff for refusing to work in an environment that subjected the Plaintiff to health risks because there was a severe ant, rodent problem, and rodent dropping problem;
- n. Labor Code Sections 6400-6401 by terminating the Plaintiff because of her complaints that said Defendants failed to furnish her a healthy and safe work environment;
- o. Labor Code Sections 6402 by requiring and permitting the Plaintiff to go into an unhealthy workplace, and terminating the Plaintiff because she complained to the Department of Health out of hope that the workplace would be made healthy and she would no longer have to go into an unsafe and unhealthy workplace;
- p. Labor Code Section 6404 by occupying and maintaining a place of employment that was unhealthy;
- q. Labor Code Section 6406 by failing and neglecting to do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the health of employees such as eliminating the rodent and ant problem and also by terminating the Plaintiff because she complained about these matters to the Health Department which she saw as a governmental body who could make the Plaintiff's workplace safe;
- r. By terminating the Plaintiff, for complaining of what is alleged in the above sub-paragraphs of this wrongful termination lawsuit, said Defendant also violated California Labor Code Section 1102.5 which prohibits employers from creating policies preventing employees from disclosing information to the Government where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or violation or noncompliance with a state or federal regulation, as well as preventing employers from retaliating against employees who disclose such information.
WRONGFULLY TERMINATED ALHAMBRA NURSE WHO REPORTED CHARTING ERRORS
While employed in her capacity as a licensed nurse and OSD of said Defendants, on or about July of 1996, the Plaintiff began noticing that said Defendants' nurses were not carrying out doctors' orders and were misrepresenting, on patients charts, that they had carried out these doctors' orders. On one occasion, the Plaintiff noticed that patient Mrs. K had just been admitted and was supposed to get an antibiotic upon admission, yet the antibiotic was not given. The chart also stated that a doctor had prescribed the medication who did not. Upon realizing that the antibiotic was not given as ordered, on or about July 27, 1996, the Plaintiff asked the charge nurse, on the 7 P.M. to 3 A.M., shift why the medication was not given. On a 24 hour log book, the Plaintiff then wrote that the antibiotic was not given as the chart reflected.
Soon after the Plaintiff documented the error on the nurses' log book on or about July 27, 1996, supervisor on the 3 P.M. to 11 P.M. shift saw this entry in the 24 hour log book and became very upset. The Plaintiff then told her supervisor and the Director of Nurses that a charting error, in respect to Mrs. K., occurred and it needed to be corrected. The Plaintiff also told her 11 P.M. - 7 A.M. supervisor, T "[t]his is your license. Do the chart right. God forbid the patient dies and you made a mistake" that will cause the facility to be subject to fines.
On or about July 30, 1996, a third charting error occurred. This error occurred when Nurse Making Error charted that a doctor prescribed Tylenol to be orally given to patient T.A. when in fact the doctor had prescribed that the medication be given through a suppository. The Plaintiff alleges that for medical reasons, it is important to know if a tube has been recently inserted in a patient's rectum, and by incorrectly charting the means that this medication went into the patient's body, the Defendants were improperly and dangerously charting and treating their patients.
On or about the end of July or beginning of August of 1996, after the conduct described in the above paragraph in this wrongful termination lawsuit occurred, supervisor R asked the Plaintiff why she had copied the chart pertaining to T.A. The Plaintiff told R that everytime the Plaintiff noted these types of improper charting (as described in the above three paragraphs of this wrongful termination lawsuit, the nurses were denying these errors, and the Plaintiff wanted the charts to be correctly done and fixed if they were misrepresenting things.
On or about the end of July or the beginning of August 1996, the Plaintiff reported a fourth charting error relating to a claim that a catheter had been removed when in fact it had not been removed.
Shortly after reporting the four charting misrepresentations described above, on or about the first few days of August of 1996, the Plaintiff was called into a meeting with the owner of the Defendant and Garcia. During this meeting the Plaintiff was terminated.
Plaintiff, is informed, believes, and based thereon, alleges that Defendant's managers terminated the Plaintiff in violation of public policy by terminating him in violation of the following statutes because the Plaintiff complained that said Defendants was engaging in conduct which violated each of the below statutes:
a. California Business and Professional Code Section 2262 which prohibits healthcare professionals such as the Defendant from fraudulently altering, modifying, or creating a false medical record as is described, in Paragraphs 7-12 of this healthcare whistleblower lawsuit that the Defendants did through their agents and/or employees.
b. California Civil Code Section 1710 by engaging in the conduct described in Paragraphs 7-12 of this healthcare whistleblower lawsuit and creating false medical record and/or false statements in medical records.
CASE RESULT FOR WHISTLEBLOWING NURSE: A CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT FOR TERMINATED NURSE