To successfully protect Hospital patients from unnecessary harm all employee allegations must be fully investigated. Fear of reprisal or dismissal cannot be allowed to dissuade any loyal employees courageous enough to challenge the occasional misguided managerial decision. The undersigned insist that Johns Hopkins Compliance Line finally abide by their stated mandate of protection 1-877-WE COMPLY (1-877-932-6675) and adhere to obligations clearly documented by Hopkins on The Compliance Line Website.
To date, Compliance Line Investigators still haven't explained their abandonment of whistleblower protection while outspoken 5year tenure Surgical Technologist, Kim Sanders-Fisher, was targeted as a 'troublemaker' by Managers. They have never justified their total lack of oversight during the corrupt termination process or their absolute refusal to investigate after she had endured their lengthy and disastrous postponement.
Maryland's Senator Sarbanes, Senator Mikulski and Congressman Cummings have all been sent a 'Constituent Opinion' on 'At-Will Firing,' since disciplinary loopholes that threaten professional careers continually fail to protect patients.
"America's Best Hospital" or worst nightmare of hypocrisy? The American Hospital Association recognized Johns Hopkins Hospital for its leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care with one of their coveted "Quest for Quality" prizes. Dr. Peter J. Pronovost has received several prestigious awards related to his efforts to improve patient safety at Hopkins, but any reluctance to investigate these allegations begs the question: does Hopkins have something to hide?
The December 15th 2003 Baltimore Sun article: "From tragedy, a quest for safer care," highlighted the positive changes made by Hopkins following the death of pediatric patient Josie King. Hopkins University's president, Dr. William R. Brody, was quoted as saying: "I want everybody in the hospital empowered to be able to pull a cord and stop the assembly line when they see something unsafe." These sentiments were echoed by other Hopkins representatives, including Pronovost.
Yet, when their Hopkins Surgical Technologist reported under-staffing she was forced to take unpaid leave and then fired. She requested reassignment to prevent repetition of barbaric situations where she remained stranded in Surgery for dangerously extended periods, once exceeding 12hours, continuously scrubbed without a break.
Could you stand, without water, food, or urination, for 12hours straight?
This shameful admission by Hopkins Hospital's OR Managers was documented on tape at Sanders-Fisher's Arbitration Hearing. Such inhumane levels of abuse are disallowed for working POW's under the Geneva Convention, but in many states, including Maryland: 'Breaks are at the discretion of the employer!'
Kim Sanders-Fisher suggested redefining OR protocols, but this valuable input was rejected by Johns Hopkins. To combat unnecessary fatigue, thereby reducing medical risk to protect patient safety during surgery, responsibility lies with the Charge Nurse, to order staff to break scrub after a maximum of 6-8hours. Any commitment beyond this time period should require "Incident Report" documentation as it represents a "danger to the patient." Why couldn't the Nursing Board back this important protocol refinement? Defending the prestigious Hospital from accountability for wrongdoing or negligence always prevailed; as the immunity extended below clearly demonstrates:
- Hopkins Compliance Line: Made no attempt to monitor or prevent retaliatory Managerial practices. Despite admitting that several allegations of negligence were true they decided to: 'just keep an eye on things.'
- Maryland Board of Nursing: Made enquiries into serious allegations of negligence and retaliatory Managerial misconduct; it remains unclear why the case has now been abandoned?
- Maryland Commission on Human Relations and EEOC: Viewed several items of fabricated documentation that were deliberately kept from the employee. This included "Minor Rule Violations" added months after dismissal to fraudulently enhance Hopkins case for termination.
- JACHO: Refused to do an unscheduled visit of the GOR, despite a report of blatant violations.
- Maryland Office of Healthcare Quality: Relied on the honesty of Johns Hopkins Hospital in self-reporting: when their internal review concluded everything was OK, this Government Agency dropped any investigation commitment.
- MIEMSS: After the concerned employee supplied sworn testimony to their States Attorney, Maryland's Trauma agency stated that alleged serious COMAR violations: "Didn't specifically endanger Trauma Patients."
At what cost is Johns Hopkins's hard earned reputation for honesty, integrity and accountability maintained? Public Agencies, charged with protecting patients from harm and employees from retaliation, must treat all medical facilities with an equal degree of scrutiny by ignoring their iconic status!
Under-staffing, lengthy shifts and fatigue are all sighted as major causes of medical errors according to studies identified in the "Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act of 2005" and workforce hearing testimony. Failed attempts to remove herself from minimally staffed 16hour shifts, working under a relentlessly abusive OR Manager who repeatedly subjected her to lengthy ordeals in surgery for no legitimate reason, prompted severe retaliation that unjustly targeted Kim Sanders-Fisher for removal. So why do Hospitals continue fostering such toxic work environments that only encourage mistakes? We must curb America's "Nursing Exodus!"
While Peter Pronovost MD was winning accolades for his new error reduction initiatives at Johns Hopkins Hospital, their Director of Surgical Nursing was deliberately lying under oath at a 2002 Arbitration hearing to remove the subordinate who had dared to expose breaches in OR patient safety! While unfairly under attack for protecting fundamental employee human rights Kim Sanders-Fisher staunchly maintained that: 'No one is more important than the patient unconscious on the OR table.'
When Associated Press interviewed Troy Madsen, MD, who blew the whistle on Johns Hopkins' non-compliance with ACGME regulations regarding Residents working hours, he recounted their "blatant disregard" for regulations with the comment made to him: "Hey, we're Hopkins. We're going to do anything we want."
It's time Johns Hopkins realized that regulations are made for everyone, not just lesser institutions, and that programs designed to prevent Hospital errors must begin with vigilant oversight of in-house practices first, or face justifiable accusations of hypocrisy. Without a full investigation the giant loophole allowing wrongful termination to silence whistleblowers at Johns Hopkins will still remain open. This oversight will effectively render Dr. Peter Pronovost's bold initiatives for error reduction completely untenable. Demand the truth: all allegations must be investigated.