Whistleblowers have the power to save lives, especially when it comes to reporting ethical issues in the medical industry. From prescribing unnecessary medications to performing tests just to make extra money, whistleblowers are vital to stopping all types of unethical practices.
In fact, thanks to these courageous people, the medical industry is improving. However, they must keep reporting issues when they see them to maintain and continue this ethical improvement.
Types Of Medical Ethics Issues
Ethics are of paramount importance in the medical industry. For instance, fraud can easily cost insurance premiums to skyrocket, resulting in someone who needs medical care being unable to afford it. Whistleblowers are responsible for reporting a wide variety of ethical issues to ensure patients get the care they need and deserve.
Some of the most common types include:
· Padding bills for patients and insurance
· Accountability with medical errors
· Lying about medical research results
· Prescribing unnecessary or too much medication
· Performing unnecessary tests and procedures
· Not performing proper exams
· Mistreatment of staff
· Not reporting surgical errors and resulting injury and death
· Various malpractice issues
As you can tell, all of these issues can ruin patients’ lives. When it comes to staff, unethical behavior may result in others doing the same or dealing with a moral dilemma over whether to ignore it or report it and risk losing their job.
Examples Of Medical Whistleblower Cases
Luckily, whistleblowers in the medical industry aren’t letting ethics fall by the wayside. Nurses are often the ones who speak up, though both doctors and nurses can be at fault. Several examples of medical staff stepping up and protecting patients include:
· Nurses at Detroit Medical Center’s Huron Valley Sinai Hospital reported major understaffing issues that were resulting in dangerous care conditions for patients. The law requires adequate staff to best protect patients.
· Winkler County, Texas is one of the most well-known incidents. Two nurses reported a doctor performing procedures and using herbal remedies he didn’t have permission to use.
· Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick even has a whistleblower act named after him after reporting over-medication of patients at the VA Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin.
· At a VA hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, patients were ignored while nurses played video games and had fun. One patient is even thought to have a died as a result of the lack of proper care and monitoring.
Of course, fraud is always a problem. For instance, Life Care spent years submitting false claims. Thanks to whistleblowers, the fraud was discovered and stopped.
An Obligation To Protect – Including Whistleblowing
If it weren’t for whistleblowers, patients’ lives would constantly be at risk. Knowing that anyone could report a person at any time helps reduce the amount of ethics problems in the medical industry.
Everyone has an obligation to protect patients and other staff members. Only by stepping forward can the medical industry continue to improve. It’s already improved by providing better patient care, having more accountability and less fraud, which results in lower costs to patients.