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Beth Janicek
Beth Janicek
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Hospital Employee Settles Whistleblower Lawsuit

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A couple of months ago I blogged about whistleblower claims, and how the law protects nurses and other employees if they report illegal behavior or turn in owners or upper management. Today, the Pittsburg Tribune-Review reported on a whistleblower lawsuit which settled before the terminated employee could tell the jury her side of the story. The employee, Donna Kovac, said she was “elated” by the settlement, but she also expressed regret that the jury did not get to hear her side.

Ms. Kovac worked for Magee-Women’s Hospital in Pennsylvania when she was fired for supposedly violating patient confidentiality by improperly accessing hundreds of confidential patient records. Ms. Kovac countered that she was fired in retaliation for raising concerns about the hospital’s recordkeeping and patient safety. In fact, a key hospital employee’s testimony told the jury she never saw any evidence that Ms. Kovac improperly handled patients’ records.

The case settled not long after the testimony of a Candis Kinkus, who testified that she had never seen any evidence against Ms. Kovac. However, even without any evidence Ms. Kinkus submitted an affidavit to the state Health Department stating Ms. Kovac had improperly accessed patient records. Ms. Kinkus testified that when she submitted the affidavit she was relying on what she was told by outside attorneys hired by Magee.

This case shows how important whistleblower claims are for employee protection. Medical workers should not be afraid of pointing out safety concerns or any illegal behavior.

As Ms. Kovac stated, “I would do everything I did all over again. If something is wrong, it’s wrong.”