The Oregon legislature is debating a bill which would protect from retaliation any hospital employee who reports misconduct that he/she believes is a violation of law, policy, or professional standards. Under current Oregon law, nurses already enjoy these protections. Senate Bill 237 would extend these protections to all hospital staff.
Although it is unfortunate that the law contains an internal-reporting requirement for particular types of disclosures, it is particularly heartening to see states taking steps to fill the gaps in protection for healthcare workers. Employees in the medical field have long been without protection, and they were provided with very limited protections under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009. The whistleblower-protection portions of that law mainly protected employees who report to their employer misconduct with regard to insurance, such as the refusal of coverage based on improper reasons, like pre-existing conditions (it is notable that the 2009 national healthcare law also provided crucial amendments to the False Claims Act). Until Congress passes a national law protecting healthcare employees who blow the whistle, it is vital that states like Oregon step up to the plate for medical professionals in their state.