Justice for whistleblowing nurses
Earlier this year, nurses around the world watched with great interest as two Texas nurses were charged with “misuse of information” after anonymously reporting their concerns about a doctor to the Texas Medical Board. The Winkler RNs, Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle, endured months of legal wrangling but were ultimately acquitted. Charges against Galle were dropped shortly before trial, and Mitchell was found not guilty after a mere hour of jury deliberation.
The Winkler RNs have now settled their civil suit against Winkler County. Both nurses have agreed to split a $750,000 payment.
While the nurses suffered for months– and remain unemployed to this day — justice, it seems, is finally being served. A post-trial timeline:
- Feb. 2010 — Anne Mitchell found not guilty
- Apr. 2010 — The Texas Department of State Health Services fined Winkler County Memorial Hospital $15,850 for firing Mitchell and Galle and for inadequately supervising the physician in question, Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles Jr.
- June 2010 — The Texas Medical Board charged Dr. Arafiles with “failure to maintain adequate medical records, poor medical judgment, poor decision making, overbilling, improper coding, nontherapeutic prescribing and/or treatment and intimidation of witnesses”
- Aug. 2010 — Winkler County agrees to pay Mitchell and Galle $750,000
The only hitch? Dr. Arafiles continues to work at Winkler County Memorial Hospital while awaiting his hearing.
Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.
By Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN