Suit: Cook County Jail Nurse Fired for Investigating Missing Inmate Medication

A former nurse at the Cook County Jail hospital is suing the county hospital system, alleging she was fired after investigating missing inmate medications.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court by Barbara Tominac against the Cook County Health and Hospital System.

Tominac alleges that while working as a nurse coordinator for Cermak Health Services in July 2014, she noticed a large number of female inmates had complained they did not receive their medications, which included narcotics and psychotropic medicines.

The hospital’s medication-tracking software, “Accuflow,” monitored which inmates had received medication, “as well as an inmate’s refusal to accept and use said medications,” the suit stated.

If an inmate refused medication, Accuflow would generate a “did not administer” report, according to the lawsuit.

Tominac found that “a great number” of inmates who filed grievances saying they had not received their medications were entered as “did not administer” in Accuflow, signifying they had refused, the suit stated.

Tominac looked into the discrepancy and “believed that the deprivation of said medications, the failure to use said prescribed medications, the theft and/or diversion of psychotropic and narcotics by the Cook County Department of Corrections staff, and the denial of the inmates’ due process rights were each matters of public concern,” the suit stated.

After bringing the discrepancy to the attention of her superiors several times, she was told to “leave the matter alone” and to work on her “listening skills,” the suit stated.

The Cook County Health and Hospital System referred requests for comment to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, which did not respond to comment requests Tuesday evening.

Between July and October 2014, Tominac’s supervisor “did nothing to stop the theft and/or diversion of” medication intended for inmates, the suit stated.

In October, Tominac went on medical leave. She returned in December and was charged with violating one of the health system’s rules, “Fighting or disruptive behavior,” the suit stated.

Tominac alleges that her supervisor who conducted the investigation into her behavior did not interview witnesses or review surveillance footage, a violation of Cook County workplace policy, the suit stated.

In January, it was recommended she be fired, and on Feb. 6, 2015 she was terminated, the suit stated.

The two-count suit alleges retaliatory discharge and a violation of the Illinois Whistleblowers Protection Act. It seeks more than $100,000.

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