AHA Is Wrong: Doctors, Nurses Have Been Punished for Speaking Out About Coronavirus Workloads, Supply Shortages

46 Groups Renew Call for Association to Denounce Muzzling of Health Care Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Hospital Association (AHA) is incorrect – numerous health care professionals have been punished or fired for speaking about coronavirus caseloads and supply shortages, 46 organizations, including Public Citizen, and three individual health care providers said in a letter today to the hospital association.

Public Citizen and dozens of other organizations urged the AHA in March to publicly denounce any efforts to muzzle health care professionals, to which the association stated that it didn’t see a problem and hadn’t heard of such reports.

However, examples of such incidents include: a doctor in Bellingham, Wash., fired for complaining to his superiors about a lack of coronavirus preparedness; another doctor in Oxford, Miss., fired for organizing a donation drive for masks and baby monitors; 10 nurses in Santa Monica, Calif., suspended for demanding masks; and HCA Healthcare threatening discipline if employees post information on social media or speak to journalists about coronavirus workplace issues.

“Given the ample evidence of retaliation in the face of truth telling, why has the AHA still not made a clear statement to hospital administrators that it is unacceptable to fire, suspend, or reprimand workers who come forth with very real concerns about limited supplies and problematic hospital policies,” said Dr. Juley Fulcher, Public Citizen’s worker health and safety advocate and lead author of the letter.

The groups reiterated their demand that the AHA publicly denounce any threats of disciplinary action for speaking out during this pandemic and call on its member hospitals to encourage health care workers to speak freely about coronavirus patient caseloads, dwindling hospital supplies of protective gear and any other challenges that should be immediately addressed.

Read the full letter here.