What Are the Risks of Whistle Blowing Cases?

Whistle blowing cases in health care involve several factors.  First, there has to be documented wrong doing, usually in the area of Medicare fraud in billing for services.  Second, the government as represented by the Federal attorney (need to check this out) has to feel the case is worth pursuing in court, that there is a good chance of winning.  If so, the name of the whistle blower becomes public information as the lawsuit wends its way through the process.  If the court case succeeds and penalties are paid, the whistle blower gets some of the proceeds as well as pride in knowing that wrong doing is stopped.

What if whistle blowing cases involve pointing out aberrant behavior in a physician?  In Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits Over Eye Surgery, Tom Harbin, M.D. details the travails of two doctors who, following their conscience, spoke up about the behavior of their department chairman in the eye department of a major academic medical center.  They were ostracized and eventually drummed out, their academic careers ended.

So, besides the risk of a lawsuit being rejected by the government and the risk that a jury will not believe the government’s case, whistle blowing cases involve job risk for the whistle blower.  In some cases, the administration of an institution fires the whistle blower.  In a more subtle situation, the word spreads within the circle of influence of the organization, and someone finds they simply can’t get a job anywhere.  They have been branded as a trouble maker.

Are Whistle Blowing Cases Worthwhile?

This is a moral as well as a practical question.  If an institution is truly cheating the government by fraudulent billing, whoever knows about this has a moral duty to society to report it.  The same goes if a doctor or entity is performing unnecessary tests or operations in order to game the system and gain undeserved income.  Such practices, rare as they are, are reprehensible and need to be stopped.  The practical questions revolve around the potential success of a lawsuit, the possible reward for the whistle blower, and the effects on the career of such a whistle blower.  In some whistle blowing cases, there is no potential for a reward, but a moral duty to speak out against practices that harm patients. 

Read Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits Over Eye Surgery to learn about a department chairman who was performing unnecessary eye surgery by operating on patients with no disease, billing Medicare for procedures as if they were done individually when they were combined procedures, setting the stage for operating on the wrong eye of a patient by constantly rushing through his surgery, and billing for services of his resident physicians contrary to Medicare rules.  The two faculty members who spoke out did so because of their consciences, not financial reward, and they were punished, not the chairman.

Interested in learning more about whistle blowing cases? Get your copy of Waking up Blind: Lawsuits over Eye Surgery today.

“Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits over Eye Surgery is a riveting, true story that reads like a novel. While my novels deal with fictional medical disasters, Harbin spins a devastating, real-life account that will make the reader forever wary of the charming, super doctor.”

—Robin Cook, Author of Coma and Outbreak

“Waking Up Blind is an astonishing book of great courage and an even greater passion for seeking—and telling—the truth.” —Pat

Conroy, Author of The Prince of Tides

“This frightening story is the must-read book of the year. I simply could not put it down, then it stayed with me long after I had turned
the last page.”

—Cassandra King, Author of The Sunday Wife