Now more than ever, nurses are being recognized for the unsung heroes they are. Nurses are heavily involved in so many aspects of patient care and are critical to the operation of healthcare facilities. Since nurses are so heavily involved in patient care and work closely with doctors and other care providers, they are also more likely to witness wrongdoing in the workplace.
Nurses are highly educated to determine whether or not a patient is receiving quality care and are experienced in knowing when care providers are partaking in fraudulent activities. There is a legal and ethical obligation for nurses to report illegal, unethical, unprofessional, or unsafe practices under the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. Therefore, any suspicion of healthcare fraud or malpractice should be given further thought.
Nurses have a unique vantage point which can make them valuable whistleblowers. The team at the DJO Whistleblower Law Group has tips to offer for whistleblowing in nursing.
1. Gather clear evidence of illegal, unethical, and/or unsafe practices
Witnessing wrongdoing provokes an emotional response and it may be tempting to take immediate action. However, it’s best to reserve judgment and delay action until there is clear evidence and documentation of the illegal or unethical action.
Document your complaint in writing in as much detail as you can so you do not forget any important details. Keep documentation as objective as possible, stating only facts and actions. Then, carefully monitor the situation for documentation, paperwork, transactions, or conversations that could prove a violation of the False Claims Act or other compliance regulations.
2. Don’t let fear of retaliation dissuade you from coming forward.
The top reason nurses don’t come forward is out of fear of retaliation and/or losing their job. However, if you follow the proper whistleblower protocol you are usually protected from certain forms of retaliation once you blow the whistle. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are not protected if you just confront the wrongdoer directly–you have to follow the right steps.
Nobody can deny that blowing the whistle has its pros and cons. But letting fear or retaliation stop you from coming forward will just allow the fraudulent activity to continue. The Whistleblower Protection Act and other anti-retaliation laws will protect you while you take the brave step of coming forward.
3. Avoid consulting people directly involved with the situation.
It might be tempting to confront the wrongdoer directly to avoid a complicated legal battle. But people engaged in bad actions typically won’t welcome your questions or concerns, and may even take punitive action against you. Remember, after all, you are not protected from retaliation until you officially blow the whistle.
4. Consult with an attorney who specializes in healthcare fraud cases.
There are options for third parties to consult when you witness fraud. While many options may be easily available, they don’t always provide the right experience for the situation. For example, The Joint Commission or the National Committee for Quality Assurance doesn’t always offer confidentiality or retaliation protection.
The best course of action is to consult a law group with attorneys who specialize blowing the whistle in healthcare. They will be able to offer confidential consultations, give advice, guide you through the process, and help you potentially secure a financial reward for bringing injustices to light.
Nurses who are employed by healthcare providers participating in fraud are encouraged to step forward, and the DJO Whistleblower Law Group will take those steps with you.