Court rules Deaconess Hospital wrongly fired employee over surgical wound

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A Washington court of appeals has ruled that the Women's Clinic at Deaconess Hospital improperly fired an employee over concerns that her surgical wound would infect patients.

Here’s what the ruling, issued Sept. 10 by a state court of appeals, determined:

Shannon Kries disclosed to the clinic that she had undergone stomach surgery that left her with a wound after being hired in 2009. The ruling states that Kries told clinic personnel about the wound and it never leaked or wept while she was at work.

In 2010, Kries received additional surgery on the wound and informed her employers of the operation. However, the clinic, citing its infection control policy, prevented her from returning to work.

In November 2010, the clinic terminated Kries, shortly before a medical expert determined that her wound would be completely healed. The clinic did not take cultures of the wound, and the ruling states that “[w]ithout cultures evidencing an infection, the clinic should have deferred to the treating surgeon's judgment and experience in releasing a patient to work.”

Kries filed a disability discrimination lawsuit that was struck down by a trial court, which has now been overturned by the appeals court.

In 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a report that found that Deaconess Hospital was in the worst 2 percent in the country for “hospital acquired conditions.”