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Fired Nurse Launches Ohio Employment Lawsuit

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Columbus, OHAn operating room nurse who was fired following a failed kidney transplant operation has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit under Ohio Employment and federal laws. The plaintiff, Melanie Lemay, was a 30-year employee with the University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) when she was let go following a paid administrative leave.

A different lawsuit has been filed by the family of the woman who was set to receive a kidney donated by the recipient’s brother. The kidney, according to a report in The Associated Press (AP 8/4/13), was accidentally disposed of by another nurse working as part of the surgical team that day, who later resigned. Lemay, as was the other nurse working in the operating room (OR) on the day in question, were put on paid leave along with an administrator after the accident happened.

Lemay’s long tenure with the hospital was later terminated.

According to the Ohio Labor and Employment Law litigation, on the day of surgery, the other nurse working with Lemay in the OR went on her scheduled break but failed to log out of the hospital computer system before doing so. The oversight required Lemay to make entries in the system under the other nurse’s chart while the woman was away from the OR.

Upon returning from her lunch break, according to court records in the Ohio State Employment lawsuit, the second nurse failed to obtain a status update before proceeding to remove the kidney from the OR and dispose of it.

Tragically, the kidney was the viable organ. While the family of the intended recipient has launched a separate lawsuit against the hospital over the mix-up, Lemay claims she was fired for failure to stop the other nurse from removing items from the operating room before the procedure had concluded. Lemay claims she was also fired for violating policies on communications and logging out.

In her statement of claim, the plaintiff alleges that a dossier of hospital OR policies and procedures that hospital administrators submitted to investigators with the Department of Health was identified as having an effective date of August 16, six days after the failed procedure in question.

Lemay, in her statement of claim, indicated that she had not witnessed the removal of the items and was unaware they had been removed after the other nurse had returned from her break.

The plaintiff is seeking $25,000 in restitution from the hospital. The UTMC is also facing a negligence lawsuit from the family of the intended recipient. Eight plaintiffs are seeking $25,000 each from the hospital. For its part, the hospital refused to comment on the case given the pending litigation.

As with other states, Ohio Labor Laws exist to protect workers in Ohio from unjust or unfair treatment by an employer. According to AP, an investigative report revealed that no policy or procedure other than those dated August 16 - six days following the failed surgery - were ever presented to investigators as being in place the day of the incident in question.


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