As a nurse, home health provider or other type of health care worker in West Virginia, you save lives every day. You are a hero who provides vital care for our communities that no one else can. You regularly advocate for your patients. When you see that rules, laws, or standards of care are being ignored or broken and are putting a patient in danger, you take on the responsibility of reporting these.
But does reporting your employer or health care facility mean they can fire you, or treat you differently? Do you need to worry that standing up for your patient’s safety could put your job on the line?
Advocating for a patient when conditions or services are inadequate or reporting a boss or health care entity for violations are never grounds for firing, demoting, or retaliating against a health care worker. In West Virginia, we have vital legislation in place that protects health care workers who stand up for their patients.
The West Virginia Patient Safety Act Protects Health Care Workers Who Report Their Employers
In West Virginia, the West Virginia Patient Safety Act (WVPSA) provides vital protection to health care workers who report, or are about to report, violations of rules, laws, or regulations that potentially endanger a patient, or who advocate for patient conditions or services. Under the WVPSA, it is unlawful for employers and health care entities to discriminate or retaliate against health care workers for reporting rule or law violations or for advocating for their patients.
Violations of the WVPSA can include but are not limited to:
- Firing or demoting a health care worker after they report a violation or advocate for a patient
- Garnishing wages or reducing pay after a health care worker reports a violation or advocates for a patient
- Treating a health care worker differently after they report a violation or advocate for a patient
- Harassment from an employer or health care entity after a health care worker reported a violation or advocated for patient services or conditions
Available Damages In West Virginia
Under the WVPSA, health care workers who believe they have been discriminated or retaliated against after reporting an employer violation or advocating for their patient can seek damages from their employer or health care entity.
If you have been retaliated or discriminated against by your employer or a health care entity, you may be entitled to the following damages:
- Lost wages (back pay and front pay)
- Emotional distress/mental anguish
- Loss of dignity, embarrassment, humiliation
- Job reinstatement
Talk to a West Virginia Lawyer Who Knows the Patient Safety Act
As a health care worker, one of your first responsibilities is to “do no harm.” But what happens when it’s your employer who’s inflicting harm, and they punish you for reporting them?
Under the WVPSA, your right to report violations and advocate for your patients without discrimination or retaliation is protected. If you were discriminated against or retaliated against after reporting your employer, or after they learned you were about to report them, they have violated the West Virginia Patient Safety Act, and you can hold them accountable.
Our West Virginia Patient Safety Act Attorneys can help. Our attorneys at Bailess Law Firm are passionate about fighting for health care workers who have been discriminated or retaliated against by an employer or health care entity. Call Bailess Law Firm at (304) 413-1400 or complete our contact form for a free consultation to discuss your case.