Nurses Win in Hospital Whistleblower Case
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) March 23, 2011 - A medical doctor who was the subject of a whistleblower complaint recently had an arrest warrant issued for him and was placed on probation by the Texas Medical Board.
In 2009, registered nurses Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle filed an anonymous letter with the Texas Medical Board about their co-worker Dr. Rolando Arafiles, Jr., MD, in regards to what they perceived as patient care issues at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit, Texas. When the doctor learned about the letter, he had the county sheriff determine who had written it. The nurses were then charged with a third-degree felony alleging misuse of official information. The hospital also fired the nurses. The charge against one of the nurses was dismissed and the other nurse was acquitted at trial. The nurses brought a whistleblower suit against the doctor, the hospital and others which was settled last fall with the agreement that each nurse would be paid $375,000.
The tables have turned and now Dr. Arafiles, Winkler County Sheriff Robert Roberts, Jr., his friend that helped find the nurses who filed the letter, as well as the Winkler County hospital administrator could face criminal charges related to the prosecution and firing of the nurses. The Texas Medical Board has now placed Dr. Arafiles on probation for four years, fined him $5,000, and ordered him to enroll in a remedial medical education program.
Dr. Arafiles was no stranger to the Texas Medical Board as he previously had restrictions placed on his license. Last year, the board charged him with failure to maintain adequate records, overbilling, poor medical judgment, non-therapeutic prescribing, witness intimidation, and other alleged violations.
“This case shows that ultimately nurses who complain about inadequacies in patient care can be vindicated,” said Gregory D. Jordan, Austin whistleblower lawyer. “It is not always easy to blow the whistle on corruption or unsafe practices, but it is the right thing to do. Having an experienced whistleblower attorney in your corner can help protect you.”
An experienced whistleblower lawyer should not only have extensive knowledge in this area, but should also be willing to aggressively prosecute each case and counsel individuals on their rights, options, just compensation, and pertinent laws such as the Texas Whistleblower Act. “A whistleblower attorney must not be afraid to take on the biggest governmental entities or corporations. It’s part of our job,” notes Jordan.
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