Nurses deal with challenges on a daily basis. Whether it’s making a risky decision that could help a patient come back from death’s door, or questioning the decisions of physicians and team leaders, nurses need to be courageous sometimes.
These real stories of nurse bravery demonstrate the tenacity, courage, and unrelenting dedication to patient care that are common traits among top tier nursing professionals. Some are recent, while others are historical, but they all demonstrate exceptional moral courage.
Two West Texas Nurses Blow the Whistle
Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Gale were RNs working at a hospital in western Texas in 2009, in the small town of Kermit. The two began to notice that one of the physicians, Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles, Jr., was displaying some unusual patterns in his behavior and practice decisions. They noticed him giving out prescriptions that didn’t seem appropriate, as well as engaging in inappropriate surgical procedures. For example, he performed a failed skin graft in the emergency room without any appropriate medical privileges.
Concerned about D.r Arafiles’s behavior, Mitchell and Gale wrote a letter of complaint to the Texas Medical Board. They did this as a last resort, because both nurses had already complained to the hospital’s management.
The Texas Medical Board notified the physician. It didn’t help that in the postage stamp town where everyone knows everyone, Dr. Arafiles was close friends with the local sheriff. The two nurses were arrested and threatened with ten years in jail for “disseminating confidential information.” Although the charges against Gale were later dropped, those against Mitchell were pursued further.
Fortunately, the Texas Medical Board found out what was happening. Numerous nurses, physicians, and healthcare administrators stood up in support of the two nurses. It was found that laws in Texas did permit administrative nurses to report a physician if they felt that the patients were at risk.
When the case went to trial, Mitchell was found “not guilty” by the court. Mitchell and Gale then fought back with a lawsuit against the hospital in federal court, contending that they had been subjected to malicious prosecution that was in violation of Texas whistleblower laws.
Eventually, the lawsuit was settled out of court.