Who Qualifies as a Whistleblower?

Play our game. Follow the story, meet the characters, and determine who you think is a whistleblower.




What profession best describes you?



Great!

Now that you know about Great Memorial Hospital and LightMetal, it is time to hear the stories of Edward, Karen, and Frank and decide whether you think they qualify as whistleblowers.

Edward intends to report the risks associated with LightMetal to the senior managers, even though he fears retaliation from the hospital.

Do you think Edward qualifies as a whistleblower and is he entitled to protection?


Discussion: Is Edward entitled to protection as a whistleblower?

If Edward does not report, hospital patients may be a risk of another surgery. If he does report, the reputation of the hospital will be damaged and Edward and many of his colleagues could lose their jobs.

Edward should report the incident because the threat is great enough that Edward would be acting to prevent serious harm when he decides to speak out. Additionally, Edward’s testimony is important because as a cardiac surgeon he can evaluate whether LightMetal will put patients at risk.

Edward should morally report the incident, but does he qualify as a whistleblower and is he entitled to protection? While Edward needs to report the situation to prevent harm, it is arguable and up for debate whether he is a whistleblower and is entitled to protection as a whistleblower since he has to blow the whistle as a medical professional as required by law.

Karen intends to report the risks associated with LightMetal to senior managers. However, she is concerned that they may not listen to her and she is considering reporting to the media instead.

Do you think Karen qualifies as a whistleblower and is entitled to protection?


Discussion: Is Karen entitled to protection as a whistleblower?

Karen has a moral duty to report and should be given protection as a whistleblower to be able to report without facing retaliation or punishment.

If Karen needs to report, who should she report to? Karen has already asked for the LightMetal accounts but has been denied access by senior managers and may think that senior managers may also not listen to her about the risks associated with LightMetal. Nevertheless, best practice suggests that Karen should first try to report internally to her superiors (the senior managers). Only in the extreme circumstance where the senior managers fail to act should she report to external parties such as the media or others.

Frank intends to report the conversation to the hospital’s senior managers.

Do you think Frank qualifies as a whistleblower and is entitled to protection?


Discussion: Is Frank entitled to protection as a whistleblower?

Frank’s testimony cannot be used to prove that Edward’s concerns about LightMetal are correct as his statements should be excluded on hearsay grounds. His evidence is therefore not credible and Frank would not be entitled to protection as a whistleblower if he were to report to the senior managers or to the media.

Frank overheard the conversation between Edward and Karen about the risks related to LightMetal. Frank is not in a position to independently evaluate whether LightMetal may put patients at a risk of needing another surgery; he may have misheard Edward and/or misinterpreted the meaning of the conversation between Edward and Karen.

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