Former nurse sues MercyOne for wrongful termination after reporting above average death rate of a surgeon

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:37 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - A former nurse at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center is suing the hospital and its parent company for wrongful termination.

Cynthia Tener, the plaintiff in the case, alleges a cardiothoracic surgeon at the hospital covered up his true mortality rate, keeping it artificially low. Tener says she was fired after she reported those concerns.

Tener says a coronary artery bypass graft typically has a mortality rate of less than 4%, but this surgeon had a mortality rate of 13%. The surgeon is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Instead, Tener says she was fired after she reported her concerns.

In one instance, Tener alleges that the surgeon cut open a patient in the operating room without other doctors present and then failed to follow the agreed-upon surgical plan. Tener says that the patient died shortly after the incident.

In another allegation, Tener says the hospital billed Medicare for unnecessary medical procedures performed by the surgeon. Tener also says the surgeon used unnecessary lifesaving measures to keep patients alive for at least 30 days, after which time patient deaths aren’t tracked as strictly.

For its part, MercyOne denied any wrongdoing in its court papers. As part of their defense, the hospital wrote that they would’ve fired Tener regardless of the alleged retaliation.

They also say any damages Tener suffered were the result of her own actions. Tener brought a similar case in federal court that was dismissed, but this case is in state court.

The next court date is set for Nov. 9 of this year.