Things to consider, whistleblowing

Ok I don’t want to give away too much identifying information. Suffice it to say at the height of the covid epidemic April-June of last year I worked a job at a nonprofit hospital that had record numbers for the state of covid patients. At the same time they were turning away human patients, the department I worked in was treating animals, I believe illegally but I’m not absolutely sure on the law, after hours.

A vet and a doctor were involved it seemed very hush, hush and they only did this after hours with volunteers from employees that had clocked out for the day.

Question: Is this something legitimate to report, who would I report it too, government, media, if nobody really got hurt, should I go through with it? Possible repercussions?

Would I be breaking any laws by doing this?

I haven’t made up my mind, honestly I’m not sure if this would be a big deal or not. I have proof of my accusations that go back years, I admit part of this is a petty revenge scenario.

Thought, answers?

What impact did it have on the hospital’s ability to serve human patients? Were they using resources (other than their own time) that should have been used on behalf of human patients?

If they were using hospital resources without the hospital’s permission, then the hospital should be told, in my opinion. Let the hospital authorities deal with it.

If they had the hospital’s permission to use that space, and did not use other resources (i.e. they brought their own supplies, or paid the hospital for them), and if it was people volunteering their own time, then I don’t see that anything wrong was done.

It might have been done on the quiet because it would have looked bad (as it apparently does to you) without actually being wrong. Hospitals are very careful of their public images.

In sum, if it were me, I would report what I had seen to the hospital authorities but no-one else. The hospital would know whether and how much was authorized.

Well they were using very expensive hospital equipment that is meant to be used on humans, equipment that undergoes quality assurance, calibration and maintenance that is not designed for anything but treating humans.

You are possibly right that it may be something I should keep in-house and report it just to the hospital administrators. I haven’t made up my mind and I may not report anything at all.

If this equipment won’t work to treat animals then why would they be using it? There may be some theft of services here but if this concerned me I’d try to make some quiet inquiries. If they’re just using radiology equipment it doesn’t seem like it would be interfering with with treating Covid patients,

ETA: If there is something to report why wouldn’t you just report it to the hospital?

Is this in the U.S.? I just can’t imagine an American hospital treating animals.

Yes it’s in the US, I don’t want to get too specific but yes it’s hospital equipment made to specifically treat humans that was used to treat animals.

That just sounds weird. Who could you reach at the hospital without making too much noise just in case this is ‘legitimate’? I put that in quotes because maybe it’s something not quite kosher but you wouldn’t find all that bad and not want to raise an unnecessary alarm.

As a practical matter, whistleblowing is often the step someone takes AFTER they seek internal redress and nothing changes (though I’m sure there are cases where the whistleblower is legitimately fearful of the consequences of an internal report, in which case it’s a different situation.)

It’s hard to be sure without knowing the specific details of the OP’s situation, but speaking generally, I would think that the first step would be to go to someone at the hospital in authority who would be aware (or should have been aware) of the activity, and say, in a non-hostile tone, “you know, something’s kind of been bothering me, or at least has made me curious. I saw [blah-blah-blah] going on at the hospital and I’m just wondering how that fits in with our legitimate activities. Is that appropriate, or is it something you want brought to your attention because it needs fixing?”

Also, just in case this is a situation where a full-fledged scandal, lots of publicity, and possible retaliation agains the whistleblower could be involved, keep contemporaneous notes and (if it’s legally and practically possible) record your conversations. In all likelihood that will turn out to be overkill, but a little CYA is rarely a bad thing.