An emergency room doctor was fired after he spoke out about the lack of protection against coronaviruses at his workplace in Washington State and is suing the hospital for unfair dismissal.
Dr. Ming Lin, who spoke to the Guardian about a reservation in South Dakota, where he works intermittently in an emergency room, said that at the heart of this lawsuit is the issue of freedom of the healthcare workers to speak out on safety issues.
“For frontline workers to be threatened or silenced, this is simply not true,” he said. “We are putting our lives on the line and we should have the right to speak out if we see something dangerous.”
Dr. Lin said that since the publication of his experience, he had heard from hundreds of healthcare workers who had experienced a similar situation in other hospitals. A doctor, for example, told him that he wrote after providing his nurses with N100 masks, while an anesthesiologist told him that he had been removed from his shifts when he was wearing an N95 mask. inside an intensive care unit.
“I hope this lawsuit will shed light on this and perhaps there will be legislative changes to be made,” he added.
In late February, when the coronavirus outbreak in the United States was just beginning, Lin said he was starting to worry about the safety practices at the PeaceHealth St Joseph medical center in Bellingham, where he had been a doctor for 17 years.
“We are not doing as much as possible to protect our patients and our health care professionals,” he said. “So I decided to go to social media.”
Lin started posting to his public Facebook account about the lack of protective gear, the long delays in receiving coronavirus test results, and the risky virus screening practices in which patients were assessed in the ward. waiting.
According to the lawsuit, he sent a message to the hospital about his concerns and received a response saying that PeaceHealth’s public relations department was “upset”.
In late March, the hospital removed Dr. Lin, who has about 30 years of experience as a doctor, from all of his positions.
Now he has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington to recover his job as well as monetary relief for “lost wages, economic damage and emotional distress,” said cooperating lawyer Jamal Whitehead. from ACLU-WA.
The lawsuit was also brought against Richard DeCarlo, director of operations for PeaceHealth, and TeamHealth, a national medical recruitment firm. He is referring to the fact that the hospital and TeamHealth have no social media policies prohibiting the use of Facebook.
Since publicizing concerns about security practices in St Joseph, Dr. Lin has said that the hospital has dealt with all of the issues he has raised.
PeaceHealth said in a statement that it asked TeamHealth to remove Dr. Lin because “he chose not to use the designated security reporting channels, and his actions disrupted, compromised collaboration in the midst of a crisis, and contributed to create fear and anxiety among staff and the community. ”
TeamHealth said in a statement on Thursday that Dr. Lin was still a paid physician for TeamHealth and that they had offered to find him another hospital placement.
Dr. Lin said that if he had to take a different position, it would mean uprooting his wife and three young children to move to another part of the country, which he called unreasonable.