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PA Whistleblower Law imposes high standard for complaints

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A director of nursing for the John J. Kane Regional Center, an Allegheny County long-term care facility in Glen Hazel, sued the county, alleging she was fired for reporting unsafe conditions to authorities after a resident drowned in a bathtub in June 2005.

During the investigation, the nurse reported to the Department of Health that she had twice requested locks for the shower room, beginning in February 2005, when the same resident had fallen in that room. In July 2005, the nurse was terminated. She sued under the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law.

The court ruled in favor of the county, finding that the law does not apply to violations “of a merely technical or minimal nature.” The court ruled that “quality of care” standards established by the Medicaid program, which the nurse cited in her complaint, were too vague to sustain a whistle-blower claim.

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