Nurse: Assigned High-Risk Job With No Training, Then Fired
By Barbara Wallace
5-13-2013 22:21:00

Santa Ana, Calif. (CN) - When Kaiser assigned an urgent care nurse to care for patients whose conditions were beyond the scope of her experience and training, she asked for training but was disciplined and fired instead, she says in a complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court.

Amali Dissanayake, RN, worked in Kaiser’s urgent care clinic, where she “was responsible for checking patients in, taking vital signs, and following general physician orders,” according to the complaint. When the lead nurse in another department, the Nurse Clinic, went on medical leave, Dissanayake was assigned to fill her position. “As lead nurse in the Nurse Clinic, plaintiff was responsible for taking care of surgical outpatients such as cancer patients, patients with staph infections, and patients with open wounds. These types of patient cases were different from the typical flus and common colds plaintiff was accustomed to handling on the urgent care floor,” the complaint states.

Dissanayake says in her complaint that when she spoke to the Department Administrator, Jennifer Viquez, about her concerns, “Ms. Viquez was aghast at plaintiff’s concerns and asked ‘You don’t know how to do simple dressing changes?’ When plaintiff tried to explain that the job required more than simple dressing changes, Ms. Viquez said she would schedule Melissa Giles, RN to supervise and train plaintiff in the Nurse Clinic.”

However, the complaint says that when Dissanayake reported to the Nurse Clinic for training, “Melissa Giles admitted that she was not trained for the Nurse Clinic and did not feel comfortable working on the floor either,” asked that her name be left out of any discussions, and left early for the day.

Viquez rebuffed Dissanayake’s next attempt to discuss the problem, according to the complaint. “Despite plaintiff’s complaints regarding her lack of training, Kaiser repeatedly assigned her to work in the Nurse Clinic for the next four months. On a handful of occasions, plaintiff was assigned to work the Nurse Clinic alongside a supervisory RN. However, during these shifts, plaintiff and the supervisory RN did not work together. Both nurses were assigned their own separate patients to treat simultaneously,” the complaint states.

In Jan. 2012, Dissanayake was called into a meeting and told that another nurse had reported that she failed to properly assess a patient the previous month, the complaint continues. In March, “plaintiff was issued a Corrective Action-Level III from Kaiser for alleged ‘sub-standard performance’ involving patient care,” for the December incident, although “Level I” is normal for a first corrective action, according to the complaint.

In May, Dissanayake was given a “Last Chance Agreement” setting forth a six-month progress plan, the complaint states. In June she was put on “paid investigatory suspension,” and in July she was fired, according to the complaint.

“At the time of plaintiff’s termination, plaintiff had worked for defendant Kaiser for approximately 10 years. Prior to Nov. 23, 2011, the day that plaintiff voiced her concerns regarding her lack of training to work in the Nurse Clinic, plaintiff had never been disciplined, counseled, or given a poor performance review while employed by Kaiser.”

Plaintiff is represented by Joel Baruch and Nikki Fermin of Irvine, Calif.