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Whidbey General Hospital mum on allegations against nurse

A nursing administrator at Whidbey General Hospital is being investigated for allegedly assaulting a patient last week, according to the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

The spokesperson for the hospital said Tuesday she cannot comment on the allegations and wouldn’t say whether the alleged assailant is currently working there.

Island County Undersheriff Kelly Mauck said the Coupeville Marshal’s Office initially responded to a report of a patient assaulting a nurse at the hospital May 13.

Witnesses at the hospital claimed that a different nurse — not the one who was assaulted — had assaulted the patient, according to Mauck.

Marshal Rick Norrie said he’s investigating the case and hasn’t sent it to the prosecutor yet for charging consideration.

Trish Rose, the hospital spokeswoman, said the hospital takes any patient complaints seriously and investigates them thoroughly “so that patient care and safety may be improved.”

Rose said she could not comment on the specifics of the allegation or the hospital’s response because of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s, or HIPAA, protections on patient information.

In an email, Rose said the hospital’s employee handbook states that patient and employee information is confidential.

Attorney Michele Earl-Hubbard, a media law attorney with the Allied Law Group and an expert in government transparency, said HIPAA would not prevent the hospital from disclosing information.

Earl-Hubbard said the hospital need not reveal patient information to give the public information about what occurred.

Earl-Hubbard said she also questions the confidentiality of employment information.

“A hospital would be wise not to draft policies that require it to keep important public issues like this a secret,” Earl-Hubbard said. “And the hospital drafts such policies, so it can un-gag itself with a new policy.”

Rose did comment on a separate criminal case eight years ago, when a paramedic was convicted of using hospital computers to hack into his girlfriend’s online accounts.

 

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