PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Kaiser forced a "highly skilled physician" to quit by allowing staff cuts to the point that it "jeopardized the lives of many Kaiser patients," she claims.
Dr. Radhika Breaden, a sleep specialist, sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.; Northwest Permanente; Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
She seeks $9 million for whistle-blower retaliation, gender discrimination and wrongful discharge.
Breaden claims that Kaiser brought in a "ruthless administrator who found ways to minimize payrolls by shrinking staff while patient loads skyrocketed, often leaving the remaining staff members trying to cope with impossible patient care demands, which ultimately harmed Kaiser's patients."
The administrator, Dr. Jeffrey Weisz, "prioritized saving costs and increasing Kaiser's profits above patient care. He enacted policies that decreased patient care and jeopardized the lives of many Kaiser patients," Breaden alleges.
"To maximize profits, Dr. Weisz instituted a new policy to dramatically decrease ... outside referrals and demanded that all patient care be 'internalized' and treated at Kaiser, disregarding the needs of the patients. Dr. Weisz created a zero-tolerance policy for referring patients to external health care providers, even if it was required by the Kaiser patient's treating physician and without ensuring proper and adequate resources were available within Kaiser," the complaint states.
Breaden cites as an example that some of her elderly patients "expressed that they were unable to drive long distances and wished to have sleep care closer to their homes. Plaintiff expressed concern that Kaiser id not have adequate facilities, the facilities were short-staffed, and that many of the patients requiring sleep medicine evaluation and treatment were in danger of getting in sleep-related motor vehicle accidents. Plaintiff was told that there would be no circumstances by which these patients' wishes would be honored.
Ultimately, plaintiff was retaliated against, humiliated, and ostracized for expressing her concerns and interfering with Kaiser's attempts to make as much money as possible at the expense of patient care. Plaintiff also reasonably believed hat Kaiser's new policy put her in danger of violating certain laws. Plaintiff was forced to provide patient care she knew was well below the acceptable standard of care, which dramatically changed her working conditions. As a result, plaintiff was forced to either continue providing significantly substandard patient care or resign. Plaintiff's employment was constructively terminated."
The plaintiff is represented by Roderick A. Boutin of Lake Oswego.