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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Kaiser Safety Worries Led to Firing, Nurse Says

SAN MATEO, Calif. (CN) - A nurse was fired after blowing the whistle on unsafe patient care at a San Francisco Kaiser Permanente hospital, she claims in San Mateo County Superior Court.

Helen Raquipiso began working as an assistant nurse manager for Kaiser Permanente's South San Francisco Medical Center in 2005, but alleges she was fired in 2010 for reporting unsafe "incidents" involving errors in medication distribution, patients being transferred to inappropriate care units and admissions violations.

Raquipiso worked during the evening shift and was responsible for the northwest, central east and southwest medical-surgical units, according to the complaint.

"Between mid-2009 and December 2010, she complained of various incidents that not only affected patient safety, but violated specific regulations governing patient care," the complaint states.

The incidents involved an error in dispensing "high alert medication," Kaiser employees transferring a stroke patient to Raquipiso's unit, which is not certified to care for stroke patients, and over-admitting patients, violating the hospital's 5 to 1 patient-to-nurse ratio requirements.

Raquipiso claims hospital staff retaliated against her for voicing the complaints, receiving a negative performance review, written warnings and placed on a performance improvement plan.

She says she was only given an incomplete, oral explanation of her performance evaluation, which was conducted January 2009, and that despite repeated requests, did not receive a written copy of the evaluation until a meeting held April 16, 2010.

"At this meeting, she was also given a 'notice of final warning' despite never having been given any previous warnings, written or otherwise," the complaint states. "Although this 'final' warning was ultimately withdrawn after Raquipiso complained, it was replaced with another written warning on or about Oct. 1, 2010."

She was ultimately fired for "failure to meet the required performance improvement expectations," according to the complaint.

She is suing for retaliation under California Labor Code and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. She seeks compensatory, consequential and punitive damages.

Andrew Agtagma of San Mateo, represents Raquipiso.

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