Persons who are medical whistleblowers are by definition Defenders of Human Rights because they are persons who have stepped forward to provide information about medical fraud against vulnerable populations, patient abuse and neglect, and human rights violations. These defenders of human rights are concerned about human rights involving violations of minor children, elderly, disabled, mental health patients, prisoners, migrants, immigrants and patients in hospital treatment for addiction. Many are mandated reporters under state or US federal law. Medical whistleblowers come from all walks of life and many professional disciplines.
Defenders of human rights within the medical community represent significant sources of intelligence about criminal activity and violation of patients' rights within a medical context due to their unique access to information not readily available to law enforcement. Patient abuse can be physical, financial, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse. Because of their efforts to "Tell Truth to Power" defenders of human rights (medical whistleblowers) often become themselves victims of crime and their own human rights violated. Defenders of human rights are often retaliated against by those whose criminal wrongdoings the defender is exposing. The lack of proper due process and use of immunity granted by the Health Care Quality Improvement Act has allowed persons to intimidate mandated reporters and destroy their professional careers with impunity. Those who are criminally culpable for violations of state and federal law or even human rights violations frequently use bad faith peer review to tarnish the professional record of a medical whistleblower.
The federal government should publicly condemn intimidation, harassment and physical attacks directed at health care providers who ensure access to fundamental human rights. The government should also take action to prevent such attacks, to protect health care professionals against such attacks, and to prosecute those who perpetrate attacks. The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1999 with the full support of the U.S., recognizes the central role played by those who promote the realization of human rights and sets out the special obligation of governments to protect them. And U.N. expert reports have recognized that health care providers are entitled to special protection as human rights defenders where they fulfill their professional duties in a way that promotes human rights, such as the right to health and the freedom from abuse and neglect.
PROTECT OUR MEDICAL WHISTLEBLOWERS NOW!
• Demand that persons who defend human rights receive protection from intimidation, harassment and physical attacks.
• Implement a means to track all defenders of human rights cases (mandated reporter cases) to make sure that retaliation is not occurring, to gather basic statistical information and to determine outcomes.
• Promptly investigate all attempts to intimidate or silence mandated reporters who have come forward as witnesses to the crimes of medical fraud, abuse and neglect or human rights violations.
• Prevent persons from using the immunity clause in the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA) to hide their illegal actions and to intimidate and destroy the professional careers of medical whistleblowers.
• Provide proper due process in all administrative actions against a medical professional’s medical license including the right to a fair trial, the right to face one’s accuser, the right to notice of accusations, the right to confront the accuser, to subpoenas and to counsel and to jury trial if needed.
• Establish an independent federal governmental office for the investigation of Defenders of Human Rights complaints which is accountable to all 3 branches of government and works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prevent, investigate, and support prosecution of human rights violations.
• Strengthen all appropriate Offices of Inspector General related to human rights and fund investigation of all defenders of human rights complaints.
• Provide cross-training between those in the medical profession, law enforcement, the judiciary and other professions to provide more timely and effective investigation, to prosecute abuse and corruption, and to protect victims.
• Systematically review and correct deficiencies that allow bad faith/sham peer review under the Medical Quality Review system and administrative court system. It must be determined that retaliation for mandated reporter activity is not the reason for removal of security clearance or license removal. Proper security clearances must be required for persons authorized to affect medical licensing.
• Provide adequate funding to all appropriate agencies to protect defenders of human rights.
• Allocate funding to Independent Living Centers, to provide support based on an independent living model to defenders of human rights who experience trauma and related Post Traumatic Stress.
• Act now on legislative action now in front of the various US Congressional committees that would enhance human rights and/or protect human rights defenders.