Nursing

News spotlight: Whistleblower nurse found not guilty in Texas

Nurse Leader Insider, February 15, 2010

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The charges against Anne Mitchell, a former administrative nurse at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit, TX, have been dropped after a Texas jury found her not guilty of the "misuse of official information." The trial was only four days long, and the jury arrived at a decision in less than one hour.

Mitchell was charged with a third-degree felony and faced 10 years in prison after she anonymously reported a physician, Rolando G. Arafiles Jr., MD, to the Texas Medical Board in April 2009. Mitchell and a fellow colleague were fired in June 2009 after Arafiles went to the town's local sheriff. The prosecutor said during the trial that Mitchell had a "vendetta" against Arafiles since he began working at Winkler in April 2008.

With the help of other nurses confirming Mitchell's concerns, the jury felt Mitchell did not overstep her boundaries as a nurse. Mitchell's acquittal brings relief to many nursing associations that believed the verdict could affect the future of nurse whistleblowers.

"The message the jury sent is clear: the freedom for nurses to report a physician's unsafe medical practices is non-negotiable," said Rebecca M. Patton, president of the American Nurses Association, in an official statement to the NY Times.

Source: The New York Times



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