Nurse files suit against Molokai General Hospital
A nurse who lost her job at Molokai General Hospital (MGH) in August has filed a lawsuit claiming she was wrongly fired. Molokai resident Elizabeth Price filed a civil lawsuit in Hawaii’s circuit court at the end of September against the hospital and their parent company, Queen’s Medical Center in what she and her attorney are calling a whistleblower case.
Price and her attorney believe she was fired because she was “blowing the whistle” by reporting fellow employees and the hospital administration for improperly treating patients.
“It’s as ugly as it gets,” said attorney Michael Green. “I have absolute proof that the hospital attempted to conspire with others to falsify records to cover up the real reason my client was fired.”
Green, who will be representing Price in the case, is a prominent Honolulu lawyer who has built a strong reputation in the state over the past decade. He has gone to trial in several high-profile cases and said his specialty is in discrimination suits. Green said he agreed to take this case because of what he believes is “overwhelming evidence of retaliation against whistle blowing.”
Price said the problem first started with another nurse at the hospital who was improperly medicating patients and doctoring paperwork to cover it up. Price said she raised the issue with MGH’s administration, but they did nothing to fix the problem.
“I believe they ignored it,” Price said. “The hospital has been treating this community very poorly and I would just like to see that end.”
Price decided to go to a higher authority to try to make a change. She copied hospital records for the problematic nurse and sent them to the Queens Medical Center risk management department, the RICO licensing board and The Joint Commission – an institution that accredits hospitals.
Two days after Price contacted the risk management department, the administration of Molokai General began investigating Price’s actions. The hospital fired Price on the grounds that she violated privacy laws by making and distributing copies of another nurse’s paperwork.
Green said hospital policy and language in the whistleblower’s act gives Price the right to share information with outside sources in this type of situation. He believes that the real reason Price lost her job was because of blowing the whistle on her fellow employees.
MGH Vice President Randy Lite declined to comment due to legal restrictions.
“The main target in this case is going to be the administration of the hospital,” Green said.
On Oct. 21, MGH President Janice Kalanihuia, Lite and three other hospital employees were served with subpoenas. A representative from Queen’s was also served.
Green said that he may also be filing an additional Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit against the hospital in a separate case that is not related to Price.