Nurses aide student claims he was forced out of program after reporting abuse

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jul. 13, 2010, 5:17am

MARSHALL- A student in a certified nursing assistant program claims he was prevented from receiving certification because he reported patient abuse at an East Texas facility.

During part of his clinical study at Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Home, Panola College student Geoffrey Hunter Dubea alleges he witnessed patient abuse at Briarcliff and reported the abuse to the state.

As a result of his actions, Dubea claims he received an "F" in the course and was not allowed to take the certified nurse aide examination.

Alleging conspiracy to deprive him of his constitutional rights and to hide patient abuse, Dubea filed suit against Panola College; Carthage SNF LP, doing business as Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility; Carthage GP; Judy Lee; Dr. Lillian Cook; Dr. Barbara Cordell; and Linda Barlow on July 7 in Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

According to Dubea's allegations, he witnessed patient abuse on April 5, the first day of the clinical portion of his class. He claims he talked to his instructor and documented the abuse as requested.

Dubea states that it appeared as if no action was taken against the offending health care provider, so he gave the director of the nursing home is written report.

He also filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services and to the patient's niece, who had power of attorney for the patient, according to the complaint.

"Because he had reported patient abuse, Briarcliff refused to allow Mr. Dubea to return to its nursing home in Carthage to take the state exam to become a CNA (certified nursing assistant)," the lawsuit states.

Dubea received a failing grade for his course and told that he should not have breached confidentiality and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act by informing a family member of the patient's alleged abuse.

Dubea and his mother appealed the decision several times but every time the decision to fail Dubea was upheld.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for mental anguish, stress, anxiety, humiliation, loss of income, damage to professional reputation, exemplary damages, attorney fees, court costs and interest.

Dubea is also asking the court to issue an injunction to order the defendants to allow him to take his state examination to become a CNA.

Dubea is represented by Tyler attorneys Charles H. Clark and Gregory S. Porter of Clark & Porter.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv00228

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