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UPDATED: Iowa Nurse Files Lawsuit Against MercyOne Siouxland

— May 18, 2022

The nurse claims she lost her job after complaining about a surgeon who flouted protocol and cost a patient their life.

Editor’s note: We have recently been provided with a statement by Dr. Giovanni Cuffio in response to both this article and the lawsuit against his employer. The statement is as follows:

“The allegations made about me in the lawsuit filed by Cynthia Tener are outrageous and completely false. I am confident that the falsity of those allegations will be brought to light through the legal process.”

While it is not normally our custom to retract stories that are, in this case a lawsuit, matters of public record, we are making an exception. It is important to note that Dr. Cuffio is not a named defendant in Tener’s lawsuit. In the interest of protecting Dr. Cuffio’s reputation, we have removed the allegations against him from this story. We have not deleted the story as the lawsuit against MercyOne is a matter of public record.

An Iowa nurse has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, alleging that MercyOne Siouxland and its affiliates fire her after she shared concerns about patient death rates, unethical billing practices, and recovery statistics.

According to The Iowa Capital Dispatch, the lawsuit was filed by nurse Cynthia Tener.

The complaint names as defendants MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center, Mercy Heath Services-Iowa Corp., and the Trinity Heath Corp.

Tener says the defendant organizations retaliated against her in violation of prevailing public policy and the federal False Claims Act.

When asked for comment on the pending federal lawsuit, MercyOne issued a written statement reiterating its commitment to the medical profession.

“MercyOne stands by our cardiac services program, and our commitment to safe, quality care is steadfast. We are dedicated to the fair and valued treatment of our colleagues, physicians and providers as this is central to our values at MercyOne,” the hospital said in its statement to the Capital Dispatch. “As this is now an active legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment.”

Tener, adds the Dispatch, is a registered nurse employed by MercyOne Siouxland as the director of its cardiovascular service line until her termination last autumn.

Hospital bed in room; image by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia, via
Hospital bed in room; image by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia, via

As part of her position, Tener supervised and coached cardiovascular clinic nurses and leaders.

In her lawsuit, Tener says that she requested a meeting with several physicians and a medical administrator.

The meeting was intended to discuss concerns over patient care.

Several allegations were made during the meeting. These allegations and the alleged responses by the hospital provide the background for Tener’s suit.

Tener said that she filed a complaint with the hospital’s chief operating officer, Timothy Daugherty.

Tener was soon placed under investigation and suspended in early November of 2021; she was fired shortly thereafter.

Tener’s lawsuit now alleges that her firing was not in public interest. She is seeking unspecified legal damages from MercyOne Siouxland and its affiliates.

The defendants, says the Capital Dispatch, have yet to formally respond to Tener’s claims.


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