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Jury acquits whistle blowing nurse – no such luck for Eric Cropp post

02/12/2010

Jury acquits whistle-blowing nurse

By Dan Bowman Comment | Forward

Anne Mitchell, the Texas nurse charged with “misuse of official information” after telling authorities about a physician’s alleged improper prescribing and unsafe surgical procedures, was found not guilty by a Texas state court jury yesterday. 

The verdict brings closure to a four-day trial that received national attention due the potential “chilling effect” it could have had on malpractice whistle blowing. Jurors hugged Mitchell after the verdict was read, according to news reports.

The American Nurses Association and the Texas Nurses Association said the verdict sends a clear message that “the freedom for nurses to report a physician’s unsafe medical practices is non-negotiable.” Still, the ANA “remains shocked and deeply disappointed that this sort of blatant retaliation was allowed to take place and reach the trial stage,” said ANA President Rebecca Patton. “Nurse whistleblowers should never be fired and criminally charged for reporting questionable medical care.” 

Mitchell was charged with misuse of official information after she and another nurse, Vickilyn Galle, the hospital’s quality improvement officer, reported their concerns about Dr. Rolando Arafiles Jr., to the Texas Medical Board. Arafiles and prosecutors said Mitchell was trying to deliberately damage the doctor’s reputation. 

But Mitchell said she was merely performing her duties as compliance officer at Winkler County Memorial Hospital. 

“I would say to every nurse, if you witnessed bad care, you have a duty to your patient to report it, no matter the personal ramifications,” Mitchell said. “This whole ordeal was really about patient care.” 

For more information:
– read this New York Times article
– read this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article
– read this press release

Thank heavens, this nurse has been cleared, of turning in a physician whack job.

This and the Eric Cropp case has me furious about pharmacy leadership hiding behind “facts not in evidence” and a mob mentality (minus Mike Cohen, of course). Either stick up for a just culture or become a cop, for crying out loud.

At least the Texas Nursing Assoc had the chestnuts to defend this poor women. No such luck for Eric Cropp from the wimpy pharmacy leadership in this country.

This could as easily could have been a pharmacist. I hope my view is clear. What is yours?

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