Nurses Agree To Settlement In Whistleblower Lawsuit

After being fired and prosecuted for anonymously alleging improper medical treatment by a doctor to the state medical board, two Texas nurses agreed to settle a lawsuit against their former employer for $750,000.

Nurses Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle began expressing concern about Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles, Jr. to their supervisors in 2008. After their concerns were ignored, nurses Mitchell and Galle filed an anonymous complaint with the Texas Medical Board alleging Dr. Arafiles had:

  • Failed to diagnose a case of appendicitis
  • Conducted a skin graft in the emergency room without surgical privileges
  • Used an olive oil solution to treat a highly resistant bacterial infection
  • Sutured a rubber scissor tip to a patient’s finger

After the charges against Dr. Arafiles came to light, local authorities used the charges to identify the two nurses and charge them with felony-level misuse of official information. Both nurses were subsequently fired from the hospital under the claim that they had “violated patient privacy” by reporting the claims to the state medical board.

In February, nurse Mitchell was acquitted of the charges against her, and those against nurse Galle were dropped.

Nurses Mitchell and Galle were supported by state and national nursing associations. The nursing associations were concerned that fallout from the case may have a chilling effect on the reporting of misconduct by doctors and other medical professionals.

Following a successful resolution to the criminal charges against them, nurses Mitchell and Galle filed a federal lawsuit alleging vindictive prosecution and a denial of their First Amendment rights. After being fined $15,850 by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Medical Board’s charging Dr. Arafiles with several violations, the hospital (one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit) choose to settle their portion of the suit rather than risk a trial.

The efforts of these nurses to protect their patients from negligent medical care was nothing short of heroic. If you believe you have been the victim of negligent medical care, call and speak with an experienced attorney.