Supreme Court upholds termination of Avera nurse

June 19, 2020 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled a Sioux Falls hospital did not wrongfully fire a nurse after finding errors in her log of medication.

Avera McKennan Hospital terminated Stephanie Henning in 2016 after a routine medication log check turned up missing opioid pills.

Henning denied wrongdoing and sued Avera, claiming it wrongfully fired her and defamed her without sufficient evidence. The Second Circuit Court ruled in favor of Avera and Henning appealed, the Argus Leader reported.


The Supreme Court this week said claims of wrongful termination or breach of contract couldn’t be met because Henning was an at-will employee.

It also said that defamation couldn’t be proven because Henning couldn’t show if Avera provided false information or acted with malice.

According to the court’s ruling, a review of 16 charts from Henning’s log found 12 areas of concern, including that the hospital could not account for 275 micrograms of fentanyl, and 3 milligrams each of Ativan, and hydromorphone.

The review also found that Henning did not scan 66 of the 669 medications to say whether they went to a patient, when and if there was any leftover, the ruling said.