OSC Seal

U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES FAVORABLE SETTLEMENT OF WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT WITH VA MEDICAL CENTER


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 9/27/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
(202) 653-7984

    Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced the favorable settlement of a complaint filed with it by a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). The CRNA, who asked not to be identified, alleged that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Louis Stokes Medical Affairs Center (the Center), Cleveland, Ohio, took various actions against him culminating in his proposed removal, in reprisal for his disclosures about the clinical competency of certain Anesthesiologists with whom he practiced. As a result of the settlement, the agency rescinded the proposed removal, provided a lump sum payment, and will sponsor OSC-led prohibited personnel practice training for its employees. In exchange, the CRNA has resigned from this specific Center. The VA does not admit to any wrongdoing or liability.

    Evidence obtained during OSCís investigation revealed that the CRNA made protected disclosures throughout his tenure to his supervisors, Congressional representatives, and the VA Inspector General. It was his protected disclosures to senior officials of the University of Akronís Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist program, OSC concluded, that formed the basis for his proposed removal. The CRNA reported two examples of potentially fatal medical errors by one Anesthesiologist whom he alleged was practicing beyond actual skill level while supervising student registered nurse anesthetists from the University. OSCís investigation concluded that the CRNA reasonably believed that he was disclosing a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. 

    In its proposal to remove him, the agency charged the CRNA, among lesser offenses, with violating the Centerís policy of requiring VA employees to report their concerns of irregularities occurring on VA grounds to appropriate VA officials and with making disparaging remarks about the Anesthesiology Service which resulted in the Universityís withdrawal of its students from the Center. 

    Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan said that she was ďvery pleased with the willingness of the VA to provide corrective relief to the complainant.Ē Kaplan said she was equally pleased that, early this fall, the Center would sponsor and promote OSC-led training for its managers focusing on the Whistleblower Protection Act. 

    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel receives, investigates, and prosecutes before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, including reprisal for whistleblowing. OSCís investigations frequently result in the favorable settlement of complaints without litigation. 


***