There are many ways in which Medical Whistleblowers and law enforcement officers interact. Some are positive collaborations in regards to investigations within the medical community and some are negative interactions leading to retraumatization of an already threatened and intimidated witness to criminal activity within the medical community.
Every police officer when sworn into office agrees to upholding the U.S. Constitution and to work to guarantee the civil and human rights of persons here in the US. To be effective, a police department and its individual officers must be seen primarily as protectors of civil rights and also human rights. The effectiveness of police depends on the trust and confidence of the community. Public trust and confidence are severely reduced when individuals' civil rights are compromised. Leaders in Law Enforcement must clearly convey a simultaneous commitment to effective law enforcement against criminal behavior within the medical community and civil rights protection for both patients and their advocates (Medical Whistleblowers). Without this protection the medical community will lose its trust in law enforcement and all cooperation and potential partnership with the police to meet common goals will be undermined.
Law enforcement professionals have shown over and over again that crime and disorder problems are most efficiently and effectively solved when all the stakeholders are represented in the solution. Medical Professionals are often unaware of their vulnerability to organized crime and have a strained relationship with law enforcement over drug enforcement. Medical professionals must not only understand the commonly held beliefs and assumptions of the medical community but need to acquire understanding of the professional cultures of those other agencies and individuals they need to interact with. Often medical professionals have professional biases which place limitations on their ability to understand and respond to law enforcement, legislators and attorneys. All medical professionals might benefit from learning more about the role of law enforcement and opening a more meaningful communication on areas of common interest.
Medical Whistleblowers represent significant sources of intelligence about criminal activity and violation of patient's rights within the medical community due to their unique access to information not readily available to law enforcement. Medical Whistleblowers often do not know how to report and adequately interface with law enforcement. Medical Whistleblowers often have too little information about police procedure and what happens during the initial response to and subsequent investigation of a crime. Interaction with a Medical Whistleblower by the field police officer should be designed to increase understanding and facilitate the Whistleblower's active participation in problem-solving. It is necessary to be pro-active in efforts to provide necessary support and advocacy for the Medical Whistleblowers in order to build collaborative problem solving relationships, so that Law Enforcement can effectively combat criminal activity within the medical community.
Because of their efforts to "Tell Truth to Power" Medical Whistleblowers often become themselves victims of crime. Medical Whistleblowers are often retaliated against by those whose criminal wrongdoings the Whistleblower is exposing. The types of crimes Medical Whistleblowers can be victims of include: bullying in the workplace, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice, physical assault, sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, privacy violations, illegal break and entry, criminal conspiracy to violate Civil Rights, and many others. Medical Whistleblowers need to get adequate protection so that they can "Tell Truth to Power" without intimidation by those who are criminally involved. Law Enforcement officials need to act pro-actively to prevent repeat victimization of Medical Whistleblowers. The risk of re-victimization increases with each victimization. Criminal cases are lost because of the inevitable loss of physical evidence and the loss of testimony of witnesses due to intimidation.
In order to address the deeply rooted problems within the medical community we need to understand how to initiate change in the system, most importantly cultural change. While government and medical community leaders say that they are open to the issues of change, few are able to translate that understanding into successful action. Knowledge is power. The greater the Truth, the more psychological obstacles, people and organizations may have to overcome, before accepting it. This highlights the need to strengthen free speech protections for those who raise alarms. It is a sad fact that sounding the alarm has usually resulted in punishment, not reward for Medical Whistle-blowers. This reaction to unwelcome truths persists even when the urgent concerns are discretely expressed through proper channels. It is important to our nation's public health that we not let restrictive measures weaken the already tenuous free speech protections of Medical Whistleblowers who have the critical access to field knowledge. They must be acknowledged as being our first line of contact for gathering information about criminal activity, medical malpractice, human rights violations and even terrorist threats.
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