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Former Chief Nursing Officer Alleges Firing Retaliation for Reporting Safety Concerns

Barbara McQuillan, BSN, RN, claims she was fired by Sparrow Carson Hospital for reporting "substandard medical care and treatment."

Published: May 3, 2018

Barbara McQuillan WHISTLEBLOWER Barbara McQuillan, BSN, RN, says she was a high performer for years before suddenly being fired after raising safety concerns.

A former hospital administrator and chief nursing officer alleges that she was terminated in retaliation for reporting substandard medical care at Sparrow Carson Hospital in Carson City, Mich., — including a tubal ligation patient who lost 400cc of blood and a patient with appendicitis who was kept waiting 8 hours while staff searched in vain for a physician to treat him.

According to her wrongful termination lawsuit, Barbara McQuillan, BSN, RN, says she was fired after raising a series of safety concerns with her superiors and with the state.

One of these involved an obstetrician who after a number of "negative incidents," including the elective tubal ligation that resulted in the significant loss of blood, was briefly suspended by the hospital before being allegedly suddenly reinstated. Ms. McQuillan raised concerns with the now departed CEO about the doctor's ability to perform on-call and emergency surgeries. "He's all we got," was the response she received, according to the lawsuit. After a series of further attempts to get the hospital to take action to address her safety concerns, Ms. McQuillan reported the situation to the state authorities.

In another incident, after the patient with appendicitis was kept waiting for 8 hours or more before being transferred in critical condition to another hospital, Ms. McQuillan insisted on a root cause analysis — only to be left out of that review and its conclusions, despite numerous efforts to raise the issue with her superiors, the lawsuit claims.

After these incidents, on Feb. 16, Ms. McQuillan says, she was placed on paid leave with the explanation that her performance was being investigated. She claims she was never told the nature of the investigation nor was she interviewed or asked any questions concerning her performance. Instead, on Feb. 27, Ms. McQuillan says she was terminated with little explanation beyond the hospital having lost "confidence" in her. Ms. McQuillan believes the real reason for her termination was her attempts to report quality and safety issues.

"This turned my life upside down. It has been heart wrenching. I have a love for my career, and it has never been a job for me," says Ms. McQuillan. "Never in a million years would I have expected to face this in my career."

The hospital declined comment.

Richard Abowitz

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