Healthcare News & Insights

Whistleblower nurse acquitted of charges

Anne Mitchell, the Texas nurse who faced criminal charges after reporting a physician for malpractice, has been acquitted of all charges. But that’s not the end of the legal wrangling.

Mitchell, an experienced nurse and the former compliance officer at Winkler County Memorial Hospital, was charged with “misuse of official information” by the county prosecutor after the doctor she reported for suspected malpractice said he felt “harassed” by her allegations. She had anonymously reported Dr. Rolando Arafiles for several instances of alleged improper care.

Her trial, which became a nationwide controversy watched closely by health professionals at all levels, ended today with her acquittal on all charges.

However, Mitchell is countersuing  the hospital, the county sheriff, prosecutor and Arafiles in federal court for vindictive prosecution and denial of her First Amendment rights. She is joined in that suit by Vickilyn Galle. Galle is a former colleague of Mitchell’s who also reported Arafiles. Charges were also brought against her by the prosecutor, but dropped before the trial began. Mitchell and Galle were both fired from Winkler County Memorial after it was discovered they had sent the report to the Texas Medical Board.

Mitchell’s acquittal should help uphold protections for medical whisteblowers across the country.

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Comments

  1. It amazes me that it even got to that point. I have been a nurse for over thirty years and it still amazes me that the hospital administrations still always support the wrong person.

  2. M Stephens says:

    I was flabbergasted and then outraged when I read the initial article. Thank goodness the public understands our role as advocates for safe care! Now if only they will appropriately punish the real wrongdoers in this case – the hospital, physician, sheriff and prosecutor.

  3. Sharon Davis says:

    I agree with Jean. I cannot believe that this case went this far. I too have been an RN for close to 30 years. I find, and have had female physicians agree with, that the AMA is a “paternalistic” entity The last 25 years I have been a Psychiatric CNS at a state facility. If you want to see beaucracy, politics, cronyism and nepotism in its’ glory, come to my facility. Fortunately, or unfortuantely, I am the union chairperson for the RN’s. Because of the knowledge that I have obtained in the past 25 years I have prevented myself and other RN’s from being railroaded. I have learned that to deal with some of these dispicable people you have to get “down in the trenches with them” and play thier game, as they do not understand the term “integrity”. . I honestly can understand why RN’s leave the field. As for me I am looking forward to my retirement.

  4. Deborah Fay says:

    I hope she wins her countersuit big time. Nurses are supposed to be patient advocates.
    Whistleblowers are supposed to be protected!

  5. Keep up the good work. Truth and Justice will prevai;.

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