Nurse Whistleblower Cannot Sue, Not Reporting Matter of Public Concern 

Quick Summary: To be able to sue an employee has to show he or she "blew the whistle" on employer conduct that went against a recognized public policy.

   Assuming the law is not being violated, whether or not a hospital’s internal policies are being followed is not a matter of public concern, and an employee who complains about possible violations of internal policies does not get any special legal protection as a "whistle-blower."   COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS OF OKLAHOMA, 1998.


   A nurse complained about being the only nurse on duty in the nursery on the night shift and about being made charge nurse without certification, in violation of the hospital’s internal policies. The nurse also felt the hospital should have relayed her impressions about the mother to the medical examiner in connection with a newborn’s death.

   The Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma ruled the hospital violated no law, regulation or other public policy simply by making staffing decisions that went against its own internal staffing guidelines. And the hospital had no legal obligation to direct the medical examiner to consider certain things the nurse wanted considered.

   Strictly speaking, the nurse in this case was not a "whistle-blower," and had no right to sue over her termination. Prince v. St. John Medical Center, 957 P. 2d 563 (Okla. Civ. App., 1998).

Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (6)12 Dec 98