9 Shocking Nursing News Stories
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Hamsa Ramesha | NursingLink
8. Nurse to Stand Trial for Reporting Doctor
Along more innocent lines, in February of 2010, an administrative nurse, Anne Mitchell, was taken to court for reporting a doctor on her staff of medical malpractice at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Texas. Mitchell, along with the nursing community, was shocked at being indicted and threatened with 10 years or prison for “misuse of official information.” She believed she was just doing her job for reporting Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles Jr. to the Texas Medical Board in April 2009.
Mitchell said she noticed a series of questionable medical practices by Dr. Arafiles, including a bad skin graft and an unconventional surgery in which the doctor sutured a rubber tip to a patient’s finger (the Texas Department of State Health Services eventually declared the latter procedure inappropriate). So she wrote an anonymous letter with the help of another nurse, Vickilyn Galle.
In order to convict Mitchell, the prosecution had to prove that she intended to harm Dr. Arafiles’ reputation and used her status at the hospital to distribute classified information for a “nongovernmental purpose.” Legal experts argued that Texas whistle-blower laws should protect Mitchell.
Mitchell got her victory: In February, she was quickly acquitted in trial. Additionally, in August, Mitchell and Galle won a $750,000 settlement from Winkler County, Texas after filing a lawsuit for being fired and criminally prosecuted. Furthermore, in April, the Department of State Health Services fined the hospital $15,850 for failing to supervise Dr. Arafiles appropriately and for firing Mitchell and Galle.
Dr. Arafiles continues to work at the hospital, and awaits a hearing for a number of charges by the Texas Medical Board. He could have his license restricted or revoked.