Former employee who blew the whistle on Springfield Hospital is now suing
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | September 09,2013
SPRINGFIELD — Lawyers for Springfield Hospital and a former employee are gearing up for a battle in federal court.
The lawyers for Stephen Green of Charlestown, N.H., filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Burlington alleging that Springfield Medical Care Systems and Springfield Hospital unlawfully fired him for blowing the whistle on alleged misconduct among staff and unethical medical practices conducted in the anesthesia department.
Green was a certified registered nurse anesthesiologist at Springfield Hospital from 2006 to 2011. According to the complaint, Green told administrators he had “serious concerns” about the lack of teamwork in the anesthesiology department. He alleged that three anesthesiologists, identified in court records by initials, Dr. A.F. Dr. G.W. and Dr. C.G. conducted medical practices that undermined the level of medical care to patients. According to the lawsuit, Dr. A.F. “approved non-emergency surgery on a pediatric patient,” and Dr. G.W. repeatedly brought patients into the post-anesthesia care unit “barely breathing” and some patients required immediate airway interventions as a result.
Green said Dr. A.F. and Dr. C.G. were “inattentive to their patients” ... “conducted personal business while patients were on anesthesia” ... and Dr. A.F. “falsified patient records,” but Dr. S.S., the director of anesthesiology, did nothing to resolve the situation. According to Green, morale in the anesthesiology department was at an all-time low among staff.
The lawsuit also states that Green worked with an anesthesiologist nurse that engaged in “overbearing” and “intimidating” behavior toward anesthesiologist technicians, nurses and other operating room staff. Green attempted to discuss the problem with the nurse, E.W., who directed his hostility back at Green. Administrators, according to the lawsuit, did not respond appropriately to this matter as well.
While tension grew in the anesthesiology department, Green discovered another problem in the hospital’s financial records. Green discovered that Springfield Hospital “was not billing Medicare for evaluations by physician’s assistants” resulting in “a significant loss of revenue.” Green believed the hospital was “deliberately not billing Medicare ...” in an attempt to gain tactical advantage in a pending suit with the state.
When the hospital CFO told Green to “drop the subject,” Green tried to speak with Gov. Peter Shumlin until former CEO Glenn Cordner learned about his intentions, according to the lawsuit. Green’s job was terminated March 19, 2012, as a “cost-saving measure.”
Green is suing the hospital for violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act; breach of contract; emotional distress; violation of public policy; conspiracy to depress wages in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and promissory estoppel and is requesting a jury trial.
Springfield Hospital attorney Andrew Maass declined to comment about the pending lawsuit and asserted that patient care is the hospital’s number one priority.
“Springfield Hospital takes all concerns regarding the quality of care seriously and we have the utmost confidence in our anesthesia and operative staff,” Maass said. “We will allow the legal process to determine the outcome of this case. We expect to be fully vindicated in this claim.”
Green’s attorney Stephen Ellis also declined to comment but said his client has been unemployed since Springfield Hospital terminated his job.
“(Green) has struggling to find work. He’s been looking very hard,” Ellis said.