Nurses Face Felony Charges for Reporting Malpractice

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The Associated Press reported July 17, that two West Texas nurses had been indicted with felony charges because they filed an anonymous complaint with the Texas Medical Board.  Their complaint letter asserted that a physician at the Winkler County Memorial Hospital and Health Clinic encouraged patients to buy herbal medicines and that the physician also had attempted to remove supplies from the hospital to perform a procedure at a patient’s home instead of in the hospital.

The American Nurses Association’s president, Rebecca Patton, has said, “Nurses have a duty to advocate for the health and safety of their patients, and that’s what these nurses were doing.”

According to the nurses involved, Ann Mitchell and Vickie Gayle, they had attempted to address their concerns via hospital administration and medical staff without success and filed their complaint letter with the Medical Board anonymously because of their fear of reprisals.

Both nurses were fired and the county prosecutor proceeded with obtaining an indictment for felonious misuse of official records. (Along with their letter of complaint the nurses sent patient charts with names of patients obliterated.)

It certainly is ironic that the county prosecutor was apparently willing to send two patient advocates to jail for attempting to protect patients.  The prosecutor is obviously more interested in protecting unnamed patient records than the patients themselves.

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