Nurse Fights for Patients and Gets Fired

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There was an interesting wrongful termination suit that occurred recently in Oregon.  Linda Boly RN complained to management that cost-cutting measures were jeopardizing patient care.  She warned them that “rushing patients through” the process endangers them.  The Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center administrators listened and did what was in their best interest.  They hired more nurses, cut back on administrators and their bonuses and lessened each nurse’s patient load.  I’m kidding. They fired Linda Boly.  Linda won the lawsuit and now gets $3 million and hopes this sends a “big message”.  Oh, it will. Let’s look at the case and we can figure what that message will  be.

  • Legacy contended that it fired Boly in June 2013 for poor job performance.
  • Boly, 59, had a stellar track record during her 34-year career at the Northwest Portland hospital.
  • Legacy managers all the way up to the top were getting bonuses for staying within budget.
  • Meanwhile, Legacy Health System was working on overdrive to rein in its biggest expense: its staff
  • In 2011, Legacy announced plans to reduce its workforce by 400 employees.
  • Around that time, hospital managers also were trying to reduce payroll on the nursing staff, and Boly was a prime target because she was the highest paid nurse in her unit with $88,000 in annual wages
  • In addition, the hospital started instituting quotas, which dictated the amount of time that nurses had to complete various procedures
  • From December 2012 to June 2013, Boly was written up three times for failing to meet productivity quotas and for “working off of the clock” by completing chart work at the end of the day
  • Legacy cited what it characterized as examples of poor nursing. In one, a former colleague described how she thought Boly ignored a patient, whose blood oxygen level was low, while Boly worked at a computer for about five minutes.
  • Boly was deemed “a troublemaker” by management starting in 2005, when she started working to pass Oregon’s Nurse Staffing Law, which was designed to give nurses more influence over decisions that might affect patient care.

Trust me, it won’t just be Legacy looking at this case. Every hospital administrator around the country is looking at this case.  What will the message be?  Well, it should make them think “we should take this Oregon example and make sure we have enough money for good, experienced nurses who have a low enough patient load so they can do their jobs.”  Does anyone think that will be the outcome?  Or, is it more likely that they will think “we need to continue to reduce staff (especially the higher paid nurses) but get better at filling out paper trails on nurses so their cases are wrapped up tight when we eventualy fire them”?  I believe it’s the latter and sad thing is that route will require more administrators watching over the nurses to complete these paper trails.  The good news is this will not be a problem for hospitals because they somehow always have plenty of money for that.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “Nurse Fights for Patients and Gets Fired

  1. mamadoc
    March 3, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    Her other problem is that she was over 50 with a long career. The local hospital just cleared out almost every nurse over 50 years old in the last several years for a variety of bogus reasons. Guess wrongful termination is easier to prove than age discrimination.

  2. Lady Tap Water Till Clear.
    March 3, 2016 at 12:48 am

    You get what you pay for.
    All administrators should have receive care in the unit they have personally reduced staffing on. Preferably in the room with the broken call button that requires the part no longer made. This the same room that only gets the hospital education channel with the sound of another channel in Spanish. Maintenance, dietary, housekeeping,and clerical work 7 to 3 Monday thru Friday. Wonderful savings, just no towels for the patient.

  3. Sir Hakum of Hugo
    February 29, 2016 at 8:31 am

    It should be readily apparent the meta-message from all the posts of all the topics on Doug’s site:

    Medicine is run by business-folks. Medicine is not a business, thus the inevitable failure.

    Business models that run a bunch of Pizza Joints is not applicable. A customer wants a good pizza. He knows his need. The choice of products is defined. Your list of ingredients, uniforms, mops, and hand soap is definable. Manpower issues are defined: dishwashers, cooks, and assistant managers. You can close at 11 pm, no emergency pizzas at 3 am.

    Medicine is different. A infinite variability of customer needs, and near infinite availability of products. The customer does not know what he wants or needs (other than the narc seeker or those seeking the world’s second oldest profession: Disabled). We (docs and nurses and other providers) are responsible for making the customer better and happy (at times quite mutually exclusive). Support costs are not fixed, can change customer to customer, and it is a 24-7-365 business.

    If the customer does not like his Pizza Joint pizza, he gets mad and goes elsewhere. Even ambulance chasing lawyers are above filing Wrongful Pizza lawsuits.

    Oh, if our customer doesn’t like our pizza, we get to meet with the attorneys, or the HR department if we are employed.

    That is why they fail, the business school folks.

    Kudos to this nurse for fighting the fight

    Pizza Joint does not care for the very lives of their customers.

    We do.

  4. Steve O'
    February 28, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    $3 million? Barely worth it for the Hospital Industry to hire attorneys to protect themselves. How many hospitals per year get this kind of ding? Versus the millions to be saved by fudging performance reports and cutting staff, it’s down there with xeroxing costs.

  5. February 28, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Exactly! It is becoming more and more the documentation over reality! Yes almost and unfortunately probably every time the hospital administrators or those who control our licsenses loose because they were wrong, instead of learning to do right they use it to refine doing more wrongs! What gives! A group of misguided and informed legislators! Look at congress. A two year term! Two years is a blink of your eye! So they are elected but by the time they are they have to focus on being reelected such that they have no time to legislate and delicate it to their 20 year old staff who just graduated from college and though I am sure extremely bright, well educated and well meaning they have been an adult chronologically 2-12 years at most and out of adolescence (25 is age one leaves adolescence as I understand it) at most five years. Most probably are still adolescence. We elected an well educated ( collage, life or both), allegedly bright and gregarious individual to represent us only to end up with a adolescent to write and interpret the laws the congressperson writes and/or votes on! Perhaps I am overstating this but way it appears to me to be the case!

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