Nursing Home Whistleblowers
People who place loved ones in nursing homes trust that they will be taken care of and receive proper medical treatment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. While government inspectors may be overworked or otherwise unaware of problems going on within a nursing home, oftentimes nursing home employees witness wrongdoings and must decide how to respond. Employees may be uncomfortable or frustrated in working at a facility that takes advantage of vulnerable patients who cannot advocate for themselves. An employee may want to help that patients, but be afraid to say anything for fear of losing a job.
Maybe an employee witnesses patient abuse and neglect, or maybe there’s a continuous lack of appropriate staffing and supplies to properly take care of the needs of patients. A nurse technician could be aware of false billing practices in which government sponsored programs are being billed for medically unnecessary, non-existent, or substandard services. Perhaps a nurse has seen falsification of medical records to conceal an incident that lead to a patient injury or death. Maybe another employee knows that staffing records are routinely falsified so that a facility appears to be complying with minimum staffing requirements.
Whatever the witnessed wrongdoing, Congress has passed the False Claims Act to protect whistleblowers, or people who step forward to expose such bad acts. The basic idea is to encourage people to come forward to report a wrong in their workplace without fear of workplace retaliation, so the law gives a whistleblower certain protections and rights.
At the federal level, a nursing home employee who has evidence of fraud in federal programs and/or contracts can bring a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government. If the employee wins the lawsuit, that employee is entitled to 15-30% of the money recovered. Whistleblower suits can likewise be brought in Indiana on behalf of the state for patient neglect and abuse in Medicaid-sponsored nursing homes, as well as for defrauding state-sponsored programs such as Medicaid.
If you are an employee of a nursing home who is aware of a nursing home’s wrongdoings, but feel afraid to do or say anything about it, we encourage you to speak with one of our attorneys to learn how we can work with you to protect the safety and health of the nursing home residents.