Two northwest Texas nurses were fired after they reported improper medical treatment by a doctor at the hospital where the two worked. They reported the improprieties to the Texas Medical Board, which agency oversees doctors. The two nurses were later charged with felonies by the local prosecutor, reflecting local support for the doctor. One nurse was acquitted while charges against the second nurse were later dropped.
Their situation garnered a lot of attention by whistle blower groups around the country. The nurses initially had sent in their complaint anonymously. The doctor complained to his friend, the Sheriff. The Sheriff discovered these two nurses, Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle, who had submitted the complaint.
The nurses later filed suit under the state whistle blowing statute. And, now they have settled with the hospital, their former employer. See NY Times report. It was unprecedented, said some, that they would be prosecuted for making the sort of report they felt required to make. They resolved their claims against Winkler County, Texas for $750,000.
The doctor was reportedly committing errors in treatment and simple errors of judgment in 2008 and 2009. He prescribed olive oil for a patient who seemed resistant to anti-bacterial medicine, failed to diagnose appendicitis, accidentally sutured a rubber scissor to a finger tip, and attempted to sell a nutrition supplements to various patients. See report. It is difficult to recruit doctors for some rural areas of Texas. Dr. Arafiles still works at the hospital in Kermit, Texas, but is awaiting hearing on charges by the state medical board.
In April, 2010, state Department of Health Services later fined the hospital for failing to supervise the doctor and for firing the two nurses.
The two former nursing administrators remain unemployed.
Texas has several whistle blowing statutes. The one most commonly used applies to any government worker. Govt Code Sec. 554 applies to any state or local government worker. State whistle blowing laws only apply to state or local government employees. Texas has no whistle blowing statutes for employees at private businesses.