Anne Mirchell, a nurse in a small town west Texas town, has been indicted and will face trial on Monday for sending an unsigned complaint against the doctor she worked for practicing bad medicine.
She is charged with “misuse of official information,” a third-degree felony in Texas.
The prosecutor said he would show that Mrs. Mitchell had a history of making “inflammatory” statements about Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles Jr. and intended to damage his reputation when she reported him last April to the Texas Medical Board, which licenses and disciplines doctors.
Mrs. Mitchell counters that as an administrative nurse, she had a professional obligation to protect patients from what she saw as a pattern of improper prescribing and surgical procedures — including a failed skin graft that Dr. Arafiles performed in the emergency room, without surgical privileges. He also sutured a rubber tip to a patient’s crushed finger for protection, an unconventional remedy that was later flagged as inappropriate by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Charges against a second nurse, Vickilyn Galle, who helped Mrs. Mitchell write the letter, were dismissed at the prosecutor’s discretion last week.
Even with all the so called “tort reform” doctors received in 2003, now they have even greater protection if this nurse is convicted for doing the right thing.