Can Employers Discharge Employees Who Complain About Patient Care Outside Quality Assurance Chain ?

In Mitchell v. Mid-Ohio Emergency Services, L.L.C., Franklin App. No. 03AP-981, 2004 Ohio 5264, a physician sent letters to a number of individuals regarding an incident at a hospital that raised issues regarding the quality of patient care. In these letters, the physician included confidential patient information, which violated his employer's policies and could have exposed his employer to liability for violating patient confidentiality. Id. at 7. The court was confronted with the employee's request to find a clear public policy that employers could not discharge employees who complain about patient care outside the quality assurance chain. Id. at 19. This is far from Dohme's situation, which involves the more precise public policy relating to fire safety. Kulch, 78 Ohio St.3d at 152; Pytlinski, 94 Ohio St. 3d at 79. Further, the Mitchell court held that the public policy identified in the statute at issue would be defeated if complaints were not kept confidential. 2004 Ohio 5264, at 23 n.5.