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43.70.070  <<  43.70.075 >>   43.70.080

RCW 43.70.075

Identity of whistleblower protected — Remedy for retaliatory action — Definitions — Rules.

(1) The identity of a whistleblower who complains, in good faith, to the department of health about the improper quality of care by a health care provider, or in a health care facility, as defined in *RCW 43.72.010, or who submits a notification or report of an adverse event or an incident, in good faith, to the department of health under RCW 70.56.020 or to the independent entity under RCW 70.56.040, shall remain confidential. The provisions of RCW 4.24.500 through 4.24.520, providing certain protections to persons who communicate to government agencies, shall apply to complaints and notifications or reports of adverse events or incidents filed under this section. The identity of the whistleblower shall remain confidential unless the department determines that the complaint or notification or report of the adverse event or incident was not made in good faith. An employee who is a whistleblower, as defined in this section, and who as a result of being a whistleblower has been subjected to workplace reprisal or retaliatory action has the remedies provided under chapter 49.60 RCW.

     (2)(a) "Improper quality of care" means any practice, procedure, action, or failure to act that violates any state law or rule of the applicable state health licensing authority under Title 18 or chapters 70.41, 70.96A, 70.127, 70.175, 71.05, 71.12, and 71.24 RCW, and enforced by the department of health. Each health disciplinary authority as defined in RCW 18.130.040 may, with consultation and interdisciplinary coordination provided by the state department of health, adopt rules defining accepted standards of practice for their profession that shall further define improper quality of care. Improper quality of care shall not include good faith personnel actions related to employee performance or actions taken according to established terms and conditions of employment.

     (b) "Reprisal or retaliatory action" means but is not limited to: Denial of adequate staff to perform duties; frequent staff changes; frequent and undesirable office changes; refusal to assign meaningful work; unwarranted and unsubstantiated report of misconduct pursuant to Title 18 RCW; letters of reprimand or unsatisfactory performance evaluations; demotion; reduction in pay; denial of promotion; suspension; dismissal; denial of employment; and a supervisor or superior encouraging coworkers to behave in a hostile manner toward the whistleblower.

     (c) "Whistleblower" means a consumer, employee, or health care professional who in good faith reports alleged quality of care concerns to the department of health.

     (3) Nothing in this section prohibits a health care facility from making any decision exercising its authority to terminate, suspend, or discipline an employee who engages in workplace reprisal or retaliatory action against a whistleblower.

     (4) The department shall adopt rules to implement procedures for filing, investigation, and resolution of whistleblower complaints that are integrated with complaint procedures under Title 18 RCW for health professionals or health care facilities.

[2006 c 8 § 109; 1995 c 265 § 19.]

Notes:

     *Reviser's note: RCW 43.72.010 was repealed by 1995 c 265 § 27. RCW 48.43.005 was enacted by chapter 265, Laws of 1995, and includes a definition of "health care facility."

     Findings -- Intent -- Part headings and subheadings not law -- Severability -- 2006 c 8: See notes following RCW 5.64.010.

     Captions not law -- Effective dates -- Savings -- Severability -- 1995 c 265: See notes following RCW 70.47.015.