House of Representatives
Office of Program Research
Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
Brief Description: Concerning health care provider and health care facility whistleblower protections.
Sponsors: Representatives Macri, Stokesbary, Riccelli, Jinkins and Tharinger.
Hearing Date: 1/15/19
Staff: Ingrid Lewis (786-7289).
Whistleblower protections, which include confidentiality and freedom from workplace reprisals, extend to consumers, employees, and health care professionals who communicate allegations of improper quality of care by a health care facility or provider to the Department of Health in good faith. Only a whistleblower who is an employee of a health care facility or provider may have recourse against retaliatory action.
Hospitals maintain a quality improvement program that includes a medical staff privileges sanction procedure through which professional conduct is reviewed as part of an evaluation of staff privileges of health care providers.
Summary of Bill:
The definition of "whistleblower" for a person who is a health care professional is amended to include a health care provider or a medical care staff at a health care facility.
Whistleblower protection is expanded to include a whistleblower who initiates in good faith any investigation or administrative proceeding about a complaint made to the Department of Health.
A nonemployee whistleblower who is subjected to reprisal or retaliatory action by a health care provider or health care facility may file a civil cause of action within two years of the retaliatory action. The nonemployee may recover damages and reasonable attorney's fees and costs, as well as enjoin further violations. A respondent may be awarded attorney's fees for unfounded and frivolous claims by a nonemployee whistleblower.
Absent the adherence to a medical staff privilege sanction process, any reduction of medical staff membership or privileges qualifies as a "reprisal or retaliatory action."
A professional peer review action taken by a health care facility must meet the federal standards for professional review actions.
Fiscal Note: Not requested.
Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.