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Title: An Australian whistleblowing experience in healthcare: A study of six women from the New South Wales public health system who were labelled by the media as whistleblower nurses
Contributor(s): Grover, Kathrine Maree (author); Minichiello, Victor  (supervisor); Madison, Jeanne  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2013
Copyright Date: 2012
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: In the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), six women with 200 years clinical experience between them were employed by different hospitals within a common Area Health Service. Independently, and unknown to each other, they advocated for patients' rights and patient safety through hospital internal escalation channels. After failing to garner satisfactory responses, these nurses were deliberately drawn together by another colleague, who without their consent or knowledge escalated their individual concerns to the media: where they were portrayed as a vigilante group of whistleblower nurses. This research explores the premise the inherent moral and ethical qualities and responsibilities of a nurse demand nurses advocate for patients. As a facet of care, this action differs fundamentally from other experiences of whistleblowing. Three rounds of in-depth interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and analysed, to provide data to address the issues associated with nurses who are labelled as whistleblowers. The study group was identified to the researcher by another nurse, who attempted to aggregate this group of nurses to release information about their patient safety and advocacy issues; to add credibility to her own concerns about patient care; and to promote through the media an image of a cohesive group of vigilante whistleblower nurses. Telling the stories and identifying the consequences of each nurse's experiences provides the key findings of this research. The set of harms identified spans not only the whistleblowing events, but also the conduct of this research, whose author is a participant observer. The major research implications and recommendations relate specifically to the role of the media in whistleblowing, the concept of advocacy and the impact of Australian law upon nurses who speak out publicly. The recommendations challenge the appropriateness of labelling nurses as whistleblowers. The survival strategies of whistleblower nurses are explored and recommendations are made to address 'mobbing' - a severe form of bullying and harassment. The concept of risk to a researcher who undertakes sensitive research is explored, and recommendations for researcher protection are defined. The nurses have survived, albeit altered personally and professionally. This is the story.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research Codes: 111709 Health Care Administration
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 920208 Health Policy Evaluation
Rights Statement: Copyright 2012 - Kathrine Maree Grover
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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