Castro Valley registered nurse (RN) Kristeen Klaas was awarded more than $344,000 in damages last week by an Alameda County jury in response to her lawsuit against ValleyCare Medical System.
According to a July 24 story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Klaas, an RN for more than 30 years, claimed her former employer refused to rehire her after she quit her job in May 2008. Klass left the Livermore-Pleasanton-area hospital after 15 years of service.
Prior to her departure, Klaas complained for over two years to ValleyCare management about patient safety and the questionable conduct of fellow hospital staff. In her lawsuit, Klaas claims that facility management refused to respond to her rehiring request in retaliation against her expressing her concerns. The 54-year-old operating nurse now divides her professional time between San Leandro Hospital and the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland.
The San Francisco Chronicle lists several examples of the controversial practices Klaas reported during her time at ValleyCare. One instance involved a surgical technician who brought a rifle that was for sale into the operating room office. Other instances include a nurse who jumped rope with an electrical cord in the hospital operating room and also brought a dog into the operating team break room.
One of the most shocking complaints made by Klaas describes how the tip of a surgical instrument was left inside a patient. The error was discovered after operating room staff failed to find the object following surgery. Klaas said ValleyCare does not have a formal policy requiring staff to account for instruments after surgical procedures.
Like other skilled nursing personnel, such as Santa Clara RNs, Klaas is dedicated to the proper care and health of her patients. Her commitment and sense of professional responsibility led her to report potentially unsafe practices and stand up to retaliatory management actions.
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For more information on the legal proceedings involving Kristeen Klaas and ValleyCare Medical System, please visit: