In what may be an unprecedented prosecution, nurse Anne Mitchell is scheduled to stand trial in Texas Monday for “misuse of official information,” a third-degree felony, the New York Times reports. A prosecutor said Mitchell had a history of making “inflammatory” statements about Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles Jr. and intended to damage his reputation when she reported him last April to the Texas Medical Board. Mitchell counters that she had a professional obligation to protect patients from what she saw as a pattern of improper prescribing and surgical procedures – including a failed skin graft Arafiles performed in the emergency room, without surgical privileges.
When the medical board notified Arafiles of the anonymous complaint, he protested to his friend, the Winkler County sheriff, that he was being harassed. The sheriff, an admiring patient who credits the doctor with saving him after a heart attack, obtained a search warrant to seize two nurses' work computers. State and national nurses associations called the prosecution an outrage and raised $40,000 for the defense. To me, this is completely over the top,” said Louis Clark of the Government Accountability Project, a group that promotes the defense of whistle-blowers. “It seems really, really unique.”