Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Policeman vs. the Nurse - NYTimes.com

When Colorado Springs cardiac nurse Miriam Leverington was stopped for speeding, she grumbled to the police officer.

"I hope you are not ever my patient," she reportedly told him.

What happened next has become a topic of widespread debate in Colorado and on the blogosphere. The police officer, Duaine Peters, complained to the hospital where Ms. Leverington worked that her comment amounted to a threat, suggesting she might give him poor care should he ever become her patient.

The hospital fired the nurse, and now the nurse has countered with a lawsuit. She says she was merely exercising her right to free speech — and expressing her hope that she never see the policeman again.

The case is now being decided by a federal appeals court, but raises the question of whether nurses and health care workers should be held to a higher standard than other workers.

The Gazette in Colorado Springs is taking its own on-line vote, and so far more than 70 percent of respondents agree the hospital had a right to fire the nurse.

What do you think? Should someone be fired for talking back to a police officer outside the workplace? Are the rules different if the person is a health care worker?