This being Christmas Eve and all, I hadn’t planned on blogging. However, sometimes things happen that demand a change in plans. Consequently, although I don’t plan on doing one of my usual logorrheic treatments of this issue, I do plan on mentioning something, because sometimes schadenfreude is a most excellent Christmas gift.
Remember Dr. Rolando Arafiles, Jr., a physician at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit, TX? He’s the doctor trying to foist a whole boatload of woo on his patients about whom two brave nurses, Vicki Galle, RN, and Anne Mitchell, RN, complained to the Texas Medical Board and as a result were facing jail time. What happened was that the local Sheriff, Robert Roberts, who, normally apparently Inspector Clouseau, somehow magically morphed into Sherlock Holmes to help his good buddy (and business partner selling supplements) Dr. Arafiles track down who had filed the anonymous complaint to the medical board against him. Roberts then got the county prosecutor to file charges against the nurses for “abuse of patient information.” Fortunately, charges were dropped against Galle and Mitchell was found not guilty by the jury in record time. Unfortunately, they both racked up large legal bills and, because of the good ol’ boy network in west Texas, became virtually unemployable, pariahs in the medical field.
Now, right before Christmas, Arafiles has been arrested on the very same charges his buddy Sheriff Roberts tried to use to silence the nurses:
Rolando Arafiles, Jr, MD, the Texas physician at the center of a notorious whistleblowing case, was arrested yesterday by officers of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and charged with 2 third-degree felonies: misuse of official information and retaliation against the 2 nurses who turned him in for subpar care.
Each charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Dr. Arafiles surrendered without resistance, and after appearing before a district court judge in Winkler County, Texas, he was released on a personal recognizance bond, according to authorities.
The charge of misuse of official information was the same one made against Anne Mitchell, RN, and Vickilyn Galle, RN, who once were coworkers with Dr. Arafiles at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit, Texas. In April 2009, the 2 nurses sent an anonymous letter along with patient records to the Texas Medical Board (TMB) alleging that Dr. Arafiles was practicing substandard medicine. At Dr. Arafiles’ urging, and with his help, Robert Roberts, the sheriff of Winkler County, managed to trace the letter back to the nurses, who were then charged with misuse of official information. In the process, the hospital fired Mitchell and Galle.
I love the smell of irony in the morning. It smells like…schadenfreude. What a fine Christmas present for supporters of science-based medicine!
Even better, the powers that be may not be finished:
Arafiles went before a judge Tuesday in Kermit and was issued “Personal Recognizance” bond, which is essentially a bond of “his word” that he will not leave the area. His passport was confiscated. Dr. Arafiles is a native of the Philippines.
Sheriff Robert Roberts told CBS 7 crews today that he believes he will be arrested next.
I certainly hope so. Roberts abused his authority in about as blatant a manner as I have ever seen, all to help a friend and crony silence a couple of uppity nurses trying to safeguard their patients.