An article in The Washington Post titled VA uses patient privacy to go after whistleblowers, critics say reports that the VA has routinely used HIPPA to stifle whistleblowers. And a letter from AFGE to the VA’s General Counsel provides examples of the VA disciplining or threatening to discipline whistleblowers for allegedly violating HIPPA or the Privacy Act.
Unfortunately, all too often whistleblowers are disciplined for their disclosures. Indeed, some employers are becoming increasingly aggressive in prosecuting frivolous counterclaims against whistleblowers for engaging in “self-help discovery.” But VA employees who make disclosures to Congress concerning substantial and specific dangers to patients will likely fall within the whistleblower exception to HIPPA. The MSPB’s decision in Parikh v. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a cogent analysis of HIPPA’s whistleblower exception and is a good example of how the Whistleblower Protection Act can provide a strong remedy to VA whistleblowers.
For additional about the Whistleblower Protection Act, see our article “Whistleblower Protections Under the Whistleblower Protection Act.”