Texas, It's Like A Whole Other Country. Unfortunately, It Isn't

Let's say you're a nurse. A medical professional charged with keeping the well-being of the people whose care with which you have been entrusted a priority above all others. We can all agree that a nurse's first responsibility is the interests of their patients, yes?

Now let's say that you are not only are you a nurse, but you are the quality improvement officer of the hospital that employs you, which I think would mean that you are charged with improving patient outcomes at your hospital. After all, a hospital's business is patient care, right? And improving the quality of this type of business would mean taking the best possible care of patients. At least that's what I would assume.

Now let's say your day to day interactions at work give you reason to believe that a certain doctor on staff may be....how do we put this...not to insult any of my many duck readers... but... a quack. Maybe that he was operating in the hospital's emergency room, trying to do skin grafts and failing, when he had no surgical privileges, or maybe trying to sew rubber tips onto patient's fingers in a cockamanie attempt to protect them. He was also hitting up patients to buy herbal supplements he sold on the side.

What would you do? Well in The United States and most of the rest of the civilized world, it would be a no brainer. Address your concerns to the state medical board, which has the responsibility to ensure doctors are competent. "Good job!" your employer would say. "You are surely upholding your responsibility as our quality control officer. We will investigate this matter and strive for an outcome that is both fair to the doctor and ensures the protection of the public"

That's how it would work in The United States and the rest of the civilized world. Unfortunately, this nurse works in Texas.

KERMIT, Tex. — It occurred to Anne Mitchell as she was writing the letter that she might lose her job, which is why she chose not to sign it. But it was beyond her conception that she would be indicted and threatened with 10 years in prison for doing what she knew a nurse must: inform state regulators that a doctor at her rural hospital was practicing bad medicine.
When she was fingerprinted and photographed at the jail here last June, it felt as if she had entered a parallel universe, albeit one situated in this barren scrap of West Texas oil patch.
..in what may be an unprecedented prosecution, Mrs. Mitchell is scheduled to stand trial in state court on Monday for “misuse of official information,” a third-degree felony in Texas.

Not civil slander or libel mind you, which would be bullshit enough, but an actual criminal felony. Ten years hard time.

When the medical board notified Dr. 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 the two nurses’ work computers and found the letter.

I'll throw this in for good measure:

The nurses, who are highly regarded even by the administrator who dismissed them...

So the small town Bubba sheriff ready to silence any troublemakers, coupled with a 2003 medical tort "reform" bill, would seem to make Texas, whose own tourism slogan implies a wish to be separate from the rest of us, a wonderful place to practice medicine. If you don't know what you're doing. It's also a great place for a failed president to feel accepted.

Maybe not such a great place if you care about patients and the healing arts.

Sadly, no one has taken them up on their desire to leave us.
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Texas, It's Like A Whole Other Country. Unfortunately, It Isn't
Texas, It's Like A Whole Other Country. Unfortunately, It Isn't
Reviewed by malaria
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