Protecting our patient’s safety…

…the Anne Mitchell way! If you have been following the “Winkler County nurses” trial, February 11 brought good news and great relief to Anne as the Texas jury acquits her of felony charges for “misuse of information”. If you haven’t heard about this case, click here.

This case has caught the attention not only of the nursing and medical communities but also the media. From many’s perspective, Anne did her duty as a nurse. Others have speculated that the good old boy’s network in a small town may have played into this case. Nonetheless, as a fellow nurse, I beam with great pride that Anne stood her ground despite all the events that transpired. I can only imagine what she has been through and while the felony trial is over, it’s hardly over for Anne, she lost her nursing job and will always have a felony indictment in her record. It’s not over yet as Anne and her co-defendant, Vickilyn Galle filed a civil suit against Sheriff Roberts, Winkler County Hospital, and County Attorney Tidwell.

The nursing community celebrated as the verdict was in her favor. Score for our patients and nursing!!! I applaud the efforts of the ANA and Texas Nursing Association to help support Anne and her nurse co-defendant and raise funds for their defense. While we are still celebrating the happy verdict, one can’t help but think about the impact of this case to health care providers (not just nurses) on reporting unsafe practices? Will nurses not say anything for fear of retaliation even with whistle blower protection laws? What about our patients? Who is going to look after their safety? Would you speak up for your patients at the risk of losing your job and ruining your future? Small rural areas are already suffering from the nursing shortage, what will this case do for nurse recruitment?

Anne, we are so proud of you… made a difference ……that is what nursing is all about!

Oh, let’s not forgot why all this started…the unsafe practice of the physician. So what will the Texas Medical Board do with Dr. Arafiles? According to reports, he had been disciplined in the past. Will the TMB let him off the hook…again? Let’s hope not..