As some of you might know, there is a very scary criminal case currently underway out in West Texas. A registered nurse named Anne Mitchell is currently standing trial. She’s been charged with misuse of official information, which is a felony carrying a 10-year maximum sentence. She allegedly committed this crime by sending a complaint to the State Medical Board, because she was concerned about what she believed to be a pattern of sub-standard care and ethics on the part of Dr. Rolando Arafiles, a physician at the hospital where she worked.
Dr. Arafiles, according to the complaint filed by Mitchell and a colleague, engaged in a wide range of questionable activities. Even though he did not have surgical privileges at the hospital, he performed a skin graft in the emergency room. (The graft failed.) He sutured a rubber cap to a patients crushed finger to help protect it (yes, that’s about as nutty as it sounds). He also repeatedly attempted to get patients to purchase – from him – various herbal remedies.
If you want to see the good Doctor at his questionable best, I just found (via a comment at another blog) some YouTube clips of an appearance that he did for something called “God’s Learning Channel”, which appears to be some kind of local access program. In this program, Arafiles is discussing Morgellon’s – a condition which most physicians believe is nothing more than delusional parasitosis. Dr. Arafiles does not seem to share their view:
Now, after all that, you might be trying to figure out how reporting this quack to the proper authorities could be any sort of crime, you’re not alone. Both the Texas Nursing Association and the American Nurses Association have been strongly supportive of Mitchell, and the Texas Medical Board has strongly objected to the prosecution, pointing out just how much of a chilling effect this case could have on any other nurse who wants to report a dangerous doctor.
It might just be the result of the local Sheriff being good friends with, and a former patient of, the doctor, and being willing to bend and break the rules to protect his good buddy’s reputation. Or, there might just be a bit more to it.
30. Defendant ARAFILES was Defendant ROBERTS physician and Defendant ROBERTS and Defendant ARAFILES were business partners in the herbal supplement business.
Defendant Arafiles is, obviously, the quack. Defendant Roberts is the sheriff.
Now, the allegation is unproven, but if it’s true it shouldn’t be all that hard to prove. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes up when the sheriff takes the stand in the criminal case. Unfortunately, the criminal case isn’t being followed all that closely by the media, but hopefully we’ll learn more soon.
This case seems to be turning into a true quackery trifecta – we’ve got mythical diseases, untested and unproven cures, and a doctor who has managed to get criminal charges filed against nurses he claims were persecuting him. If it wasn’t really happening, it would almost be entertaining.
But it is happening. And it’s scary. Nurses are an enormously important link in our healthcare system, and we need to have them watching out for us. If they’re scared to take concerns with physicians to the appropriate authorities, we’re all in danger.
If you can, please kick a little bit of money toward the defense fund that the Texas Nursing Association has set up to help with this case.
After posting the article, I did a bit more digging around on Dr. Arafiles. I’ve made a few more interesting discoveries:
- A quick look at one of the book reviews he posted on Amazon suggests that he might have some anti-vaccine tendencies.
- A look at a page on what looks to be his website also seems to suggest anti-vax links.
- It looks like the Sheriff’s connection to the Arafiles’ herbal business is absolutely real. I found a description of a court hearing earlier in the case where the Sheriff apparently admitted that he had “sold/distributed” the supplements.
- Arafiles Linkedin profile lists him as the owner of “Health to Fit”. This matches a website that appears across the screen in the YouTube videos above. The website’s contact information gives a Kermit, Texas address, all of which strongly suggests that the site is Arafiles’.
- The site mentioned above is a veritable cornucopia of woo, and peddles a variety of non-FDA approved products.
- In 99.9% unrelated news, Arafiles apparently took a speeding ticket to trial, lost, appealed, and lost. The order denying his appeal is a revealing read.
- The Texas Nursing Association is Tweeting the trial.
- According to one of the TNA Tweets, in testimony today Arafiles said that diabetics heal as well as anyone.
It really, really, REALLY looks like the wrong person is on trial.