Vermont state senators are set to debate this week a bill that spells out protections for hospital whistle-blowers.
The bill would ban retaliatory action by a hospital administrator if an employee reported to a supervisor or outside public officials violations of law or hazards that threaten patient safety.
It would also protect workers who provided information or testified in an investigation or refused to take part in an activity they deemed illegal or dangerous.
"Healthcare workers shouldn't have to choose between doing the right thing by reporting patient-safety issues and losing their job by retaliation," said Jennifer Henry, a nurse at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington and president of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. She supports the bill.
On the other side is the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.
"We agree with the ends but disagree with the means," said Steve Kimbell, a lobbyist and spokesman for the association. Hospitals would prefer a requirement that they have nonretaliation policies in their patient bills of rights. He noted that many hospitals already have nonretaliation policies.