In an article published by The Hill today, whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn discussed the need for public health and safety whistleblower laws to protect workers during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.
Workers at hospitals, nursing homes, and community health clinics, who witness threats to patient health and public safety, lack whistleblower protection laws, Kohn says. Now, amid a public health emergency, reforms are needed more than ever.
“It often takes a crisis for Congress to recognize the need to enact effective whistleblower laws,” Kohn said. “We are in such a crisis today. The need is urgent.”
According to Kohn, creating a reporting system for public safety whistleblowers requires three main components:
- Create a whistleblower office with jurisdiction over public health issues;
- Follow modern whistleblower laws to ensure the inclusion of strong anti-fraud;
- Incentivize whistleblowers by providing monetary rewards
- Provide strong confidentiality protections for anonymous reporting
- Include standard anti-retaliation provisions
“Congress is in the process of spending trillions of dollars in fighting the hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic. They need to take some time and enact a law to promote the reporting of threats to public health and patient safety. The basic structure of any such law is well established and proven to be successful. This structure is needed both in today’s battle against COVID-19 and tomorrow’s future health crises.”
Photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman and Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs