Plaintiff was employed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. ?She was subject to a patient confidentiality policy as it related to protected health information, and understood that violation of the policy could result in discipline including? termination ?from ?employment. Moreover, the employer?s Code of Conduct policy specifically forbid employees from taking patient data offsite except as necessary and in accordance with departmental policies.?? ??Confidentiality? includes ?[k]eeping information private that should not be shared with anyone else.??? The Code of Conduct further encouraged employees to contact a compliance officer if they suspected a regulatory violation, ?but ?that ?they? would ?not ?be ?protected from ?the results of their misconduct if they are responsible for a violation or any other act that harmful to Providence.? The Plaintiff was counseled about her performance, and also received a written warning. Seven areas of deficiency were specifically identified.? ?Thereafter, she was issued a final warning about her performance.
The day after receiving the final warning, the Plaintiff reported compliance issues about alleged improper Medicare billing and having to read ?and ?interpret ?complex ?orthopedic? X-rays. That same day it was reported that Plaintiff took home several patient face sheets which contained confidential medical information.???? ?When confronted Plaintiff explained that she took the documents? home because she was? asked? by the compliance?? officer?? to? ?fax? ?documents? ?which reflected her concerns.? ?She claimed to have redacted patient information before taking them from? ?the? ?premises.?????? She? ?never? ?faxed? ?the documents, but did show them to her boyfriend, who ?was ?an ?attorney.?? ?She ?never ?contacted ?a governmental?? administrative agency about her concerns.
Plaintiff? was ?terminated ?from employment for removing confidential patient information, and insubordination for refusing to return ?the ?documents ?when ?originally? asked. She brought suit alleging wrongful discharge in violation of a clear mandate of public policy and a?? breach? ?of? ?a?? promise?? contained? ?in? ?the employer?s code of conduct.? ?The trial court granted summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals ruled that Plaintiff had not satisfied the jeopardy element of the public policy tort as a matter of law. ?The Court ruled that Washington Health Care Act (WHCA), RCW ?43.70, provides? comprehensive remedies to promote the public policy claim.?? The Court ruled that the WHCA was similar to the WISHA administrated scheme at issue in Cudney v. ALSCO, INC., 172 Wn.2d 524, 259 P.3d 244 (2011).? ?The Court also relied upon Weiss v. Lonnquist, Hubbard v. Spokane County, and Korslund v. Dyncorp Tri-Cities. In reference to the Thomson v. St. Regis Handbook ?claim, ?the? Court ?ruled ?that ?there existed no breach of a promise. ?As a matter of law, Plaintiff was not terminated because she contacted the compliance officer, but because she violated the employer?s confidentiality policy. A Petition for Review is pending.
Worley ?v. ?Providence ?Physician ?Services ?Co., 175 Wn. App. 566, 307 P.3d 759 (Div. III July, 2013) (Brown, Korsmo, Kulik)