There's been a growing national concern over the way that hospitals are reporting—or not reporting—rates of infection among patients.
For example, researchers at the University of Michigan found that infections would replace both heart disease and cancer as a leading cause of death in hospitals if the count was based off patients' treatment records, rather than what is ultimately written down on death certificates. It's hardly the first study or report to indicate a widespread problem.
Now, there's also concern that anyone who tries to take action to correct that problem could end up being handed a pink slip shortly afterward.
That's what a New Jersey nurse claims happened after she complained to Cooper University officials about procedural and reporting problems regarding a staph infection outbreak in its neonatal unit.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, a MRSA outbreak in the hospital's neonatal unit did infect eight infants, killing two.
The nurse claims that she told both the hospital's administrator and environmental service representative that necessary steps to prevent cross-contamination weren't being followed. Furthermore, she warned them against accepting any more infants into the neo-natal intensive care unit until the MRSA was under control. Despite her warnings, the hospital continued to accept infants from surrounding hospitals, indicating that they hadn't warned the other hospitals about the infection.
The hospital terminated the nurse's employment just 3 days after her conversation with administration. She was given neither a verbal nor written explanation for her dismissal.
The hospital has responded to the lawsuit by saying that the nurse wasn't in a position to know what was really being done about the problems at the hospital, even though she was the assistant-vice president of the hospital's Women's and Children's Health Institute and says that she is simply trying to cash in on an unfortunate situation.
What seems particularly suspicious, however, is that the nurse had only been in the hospital's employ for one month and had never received any complaints about her work. The silence surrounding her dismissal is also unusual—indicating that perhaps the administration was afraid of saying something that could be exposed later as a lie.
Anyone in a similar position may want to consider the advice and guidance of an attorney to determine your legal position.
Source: NJ.com, "N.J. nurse fired after accusing hospital of mishandling MRSA outbreak, suit says," Craig McCarthy, Jan. 03, 2017