A local woman has filed a lawsuit against Rutland Regional Medical Center, claiming her efforts to limit her patients’ exposure to cancer-causing X-rays led to her dismissal.
Attorney John Paul Faignant, of Miller Faignant & Robbason, filed suit in Rutland civil court last week on behalf of Sharon Currie, who worked as an X-ray technician at RRMC from 2005 until her termination in 2011.
According to the affidavit, Currie took issue with the way patients in the intensive-care unit received X-rays.
“Plaintiff (Currie) is a cancer survivor, having herself been subjected to excessive radiation in her field as an X-ray technician prior to the discovery of the need to protect such technicians from over-exposure while administering diagnostic tests,” the lawsuit states. “Because of her personal experience, Plaintiff was aware of the danger to patients experiencing the same consequences from over-radiation.”
According to the lawsuit, Currie was instructed to give X-rays in a way that she felt unnecessarily exposed her patients to a potential carcinogen. When Currie brought her issue to the attention of her supervisors, she was told to follow the procedures established by the hospital, records state.
Finding the procedures to be in conflict with her interpretation of the standards and ethics of her profession, Currie used an alternative technique that limited patients’ exposure to X-rays.
RRMC fired Currie in September 2011 and shortly thereafter filed a complaint with the state’s Office of Professional Regulation, claiming Currie was dismissed for falsifying medical records, according to records on file with the state.
In February, the state returned its findings from an investigative team composed of an expert, an administrator, a staff investigator and a prosecutor.
“Based in the results of the investigation, the Investigative Team found no evidence to support the allegation that the Respondent (Currie) had falsified patients’ medical records,” records state. “The Team found that the Respondent made efforts to reduce the exposure to patients and that she had the best interests of the patients in mind. The team had no concerns about the Respondent’s actions and is pleased about the concern she showed for reducing exposure to patients.”
The lawsuit alleges RRMC violated Currie’s protections under the state’s whistleblower protection law.
Richard Cassidy, an attorney with the Burlington-based law firm Hoff Curtis, said it’s not necessary for an employee to alert an individual or agency outside her place of employment to receive whistleblower protection.
“If they threaten to disclose, that might be enough,” Cassidy said. “If they brought it to their employer’s attention, that is definitely enough.”
The lawsuit also alleges Currie was discriminated against because of her age and gender.
Representatives with RRMC had little to say on the matter Monday.
“At this time, we have to decline any comment,” said Priscilla Latkin, communications specialist with RRMC.
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