A nurse who worked at Monmouth Medical Center is suing owner RWJBarnabas Health, claiming a boss retaliated after she reported that staff members were sedating patients with Benadryl at night, in violation of hospital policy.
Patricia R. Moran of Wall told her supervisors that several nurses in her unit were intentionally giving patients Benadryl in order to make them drowsy or fall asleep and did not include the medication in the patients’ charts, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit — which was filed in state Superior Court, Monmouth County — alleges Moran’s direct supervisor launched a campaign of retaliation after her report.
The situation began in March, when Moran first noticed the misuse of Benadryl, according to the lawsuit. Moran checked with the hospital’s director of behavioral health services to check for reports of Benadryl use by the nurses in the psychiatric unit, and found there were none, according to the lawsuit. She then reported the drug’s misuse to the department director, which she alleges triggered the retaliation campaign.
In the months that followed, Moran’s direct boss denied her time on the schedule, issued a “bogus” evaluation and subjected Moran to increased scrutiny, according to the lawsuit.
Moran also said she was moved to a pediatric psychiatric unit, where she was unfamiliar with procedures. The lawsuit alleges Moran was then falsely accused of refusing the assignment after she informed that unit’s supervisor of not having experience or training in pediatric admissions.
Hospital spokeswoman Elizabeth Brennan said she could not comment on an individual employee or patient matter, but said the hospital “is fully committed to providing a safe environment for our patients, visitors and staff.”
The culmination of the retaliation was a 14-week suspension without pay and Moran was placed on a final warning, which her lawyer said violated the hospital’s progressive discipline policy. She remains on unpaid leave.
“As alleged in the complaint, the hospital turned its back on Ms. Moran and immediately retaliated in an egregious fashion, all because she exposed illicit conduct and sought to uphold the highest standard of care for patients,” her attorney, Matthew A. Luber of McOmber & McOmber of Marlton, said in an email. “No employee deserves to be treated in such a manner, let alone someone who has dedicated more than 31 years at this particular hospital. Ms. Moran looks forward to her day in court.”
Moran worked for more than 30 years at Monmouth Medical Center and has held psychiatric and mental health nursing certificates for more than 20 years, according to Luber.