A Nurse Faces Felony Charges For Reporting Doctor To Medical Board

Hypothetical: A nurse reports a doctor to the state medical board, saying he was improperly performing surgeries.

If the allegations were true, we imagine there should be no professional repercussions. If it turned out to be false, one could easily imagine she would lose her job and potentially face a libel suit.

But it’s hard to imagine she’d face criminal charges and 10 years in prison.

The New York Times has the full story on an upcoming trial in the West Texas town of Kermit where nurse Anne Mitchell has been charged with “misuse of official information,” a third-degree felony. Her alleged criminal activity is writing the Texas medical board about the practices of a Dr. Rolando Arafiles Jr., a doctor who appears to have less than a squeaky clean record.

The case will come down to whether Mitchell was acting in good faith when she reported the doctor, and it’s an ugly tale of he said, she said, with a Sheriff very defensive of the doctor and whistleblower activists calling the suit “completely over the top.”

NYT: It occurred to Anne Mitchell as she was writing the letter that she might lose her job, which is why she chose not to sign it. But it was beyond her conception that she would be indicted and threatened with 10 years in prison for doing what she knew a nurse must: inform state regulators that a doctor at her rural hospital was practicing bad medicine.

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