White Coat Underground

The story of the Texas nurses who were fired and prosecuted for reporting a flaky doctor just keeps getting better. This case was surprising in that it at first seemed to be a clear abuse of power by local officials but on deeper exploration involved a whole army of unorthodox medical thinkers (my prior coverage of the case is here).  This case was surprising in that it at first seemed to be a clear abuse of power by local officials  but on deeper exploration involved a whole army of unorthodox medical thinkers.

In Kermit, TX, two nurses at a small community hospital registered complaints about a local doctor named Rolando Arafiles.  When their complaints were ignored by the hospital administration, they sent an anonymous letter to the state medical board.  When local officials found out about the letter, the nurses were fired and prosecuted.

Dr. Arafiles, who lists himself as a family physician but hold no board certifications, was working in Texas under a limited medical license, having been censured for, fail[ing] to adequately supervise a physician assistant and fail[ing] to make an independeint medical professional decision.”  The Texas Medical Board’s censure required Arafiles to stop supervising physician assistants and nurse practitioners, to pay a fine, and to take continuing medical educational courses, including specific training on ethics.  The hospital where he was working agreed to give him privileges if he had the restrictions on his license lifted.

According to a pending civil suit filed by the fired nurses, each meeting that was to address Dr. Arafiles failure to meet these requirements was postponed or cancelled.  The suit also alleges that after treating patients, Arafiles contacted them by email soliciting them to buy supplements that he sells.

When the state medical board informed Dr. Arafiles of the complaint against him, he went to his friend and patient, the sheriff of Winkler county.  The sheriff, despite several warning from the state medical board, investigated and found the identities of the anonymous complainants and arrested two nurses, charging them with “misuse of official information.” Charges against one were dropped, and the other was acquitted after a brief trial.

During the prosecution of the nurse whistle-blowers, a quasi-libertarian medical group known for unusual stances on medical issues (the AAPS) made public statements in support of Dr. Arafiles.  The legal counsel of this medical association (the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons) is lawyer and Conservapedia founder Andrew Schlafly.  When the State of New York found out about Arafiles’ troubles in Texas, they demanded that to keep his license in New York, he fully comply with the Texas Board’s orders.  In lieu of this condition, he chose to give up his license to practice in New York, a case in which he was represented by a lawyer named Andrew Schlafly, the same Schalfly whose organization was a lone voice in the wilderness supporting the doctor whose practice of medicine was found to be faulty.

Given that fulfillment of the Texas board’s order was a condition of his being given hospital privileges, why would he not simply sign the agreement with New York?  Was he truly planing to comply with the board? Did he assume that the hospital would indefinitely postpone their discussions of his “problems”?  Did his lawyer use his position as counsel to the AAPS to try to influence the outcome of the case, a case that had to be tried in another community to avoid bias?

I don’t know the answers to a lot of these questions, but something doesn’t smell right.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    February 16, 2010

    Please. It’s spelled Conservapædia. (-:

  2. #2 Coriolis
    February 16, 2010

    Wait so what is the actual professional organization of doctors? From my experience with the APS or ACS I would’ve thought the AAPS sounded like a professional organization as opposed to a right-wing cabal.

  3. #4 Uncle Glenny
    February 16, 2010

    For any casual readers, I’ll point out that Schlafly is also involved (founder?) with the the conservative bible project. They need to remove all the liberal parts. Pharyngula covered this.

    Visit both and laugh.

  4. #5 Bryan
    February 16, 2010

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservapedia

    Not THAT Andrew Schlafly?

  5. #6 PalMD
    February 16, 2010

    Yes, that one.

  6. #7 Toast
    February 17, 2010

    As you forecast, Arafile’s webshite (http://www.health2fit.net/index.html) has apparently been memory holed.

  7. #8 Nomad
    February 17, 2010

    I know, I was shocked when I first heard this too. Well, actually.. I didn’t even know that he was a lawyer. I knew him as a sort of absurd, paranoid little man who felt the need to make his own alternative version of wikipedia where he could maintain an iron grip on the content, creating a sort of fictional encyclopedia that reflects his delusional view of the world.

    I read of some legal claims he’s made in the past that were absurd. Sometimes for amusement I go to rationalwiki and read up on their accounts of the goings on at conservapedia. Supposedly when someone once changed some of the articles on conservapedia, ya’know, as the wiki concept allows people to do, he claimed to have reported that person to the FBI for “vandalism”. He tried to tie the apparent fact that the person used a bot to alter many pages at once to a past case where the FBI prosecuted someone for using a computer worm, saying that the bot was conceptually similar to the worm.

    Okay, okay, so he’s also blissfully ignorant of computer concepts as well as scientific ones.

    But the fun part of this event is that when called on his claims, when it became clear that the FBI was doing absolutely nothing about this, either because he lied about reporting the event or else the FBI rightly concluded that this was a non-issue, he deleted all the discussion about the event to try to pretend that none of it had ever happened.

    The idea that THIS guy is acting as a legal representative to Arafiles… I don’t know, it almost fills me with joy. I just hope that he is truly as clueless about the law as he appears to be in his boasting.

    Because as other creationists (even other creationist lawyers) have learned, things change a bit when you step outside of an environment where you can control the discussion and into a formal environment where a record record is kept and where the other side is given the right to represent their case.

  8. #9 PalMD
    February 17, 2010

    First, the internet has no memory hole, so Arafiles is still with us.

    Second, I was a target of the harassment from conservapedia. It was…unpleasant.

  9. #10 Bob
    February 17, 2010

    I’d like to know why Stan Wiley (hospital director) was vigorously covering for Arafiles. Maybe he just didn’t want the embarrassment or headache of getting rid of him. Or maybe there was some more “good ol’ boy” activity going on. Something smells about this guy.

  10. #11 PalMD
    February 17, 2010

    Or it may simply be that keeping a rural 12 bed hospital open and staffed is nearly impossible and they were desperate.

  11. #12 Donna B.
    February 17, 2010

    Any relation to Phyllis?

  12. #13 PalMD
    February 17, 2010

    He is one of three sons: andy is virulently anti-gay, one son is gay, and another is some sort of PhD who has a history if “interesting” comments on the usenets, etc.

  13. #14 Arnold T Pants
    February 17, 2010

    Here’s the RationalWiki article on Mr. Schlafly. For a good laugh, read about the Lenski Affair.

  14. #15 Chris
    February 17, 2010

    Nomad:

    Okay, okay, so he’s also blissfully ignorant of computer concepts as well as scientific ones.

    Nomad, you may be surprised to learn that his undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering.

    PalMD, Roger Schlafly has a PhD in math. And yes, I know about his “interesting” comments.

  15. #16 Calli Arcale
    February 18, 2010

    I work with some electrical engineers. I am not surprised to find another person with an EE degree who is ignorant of computer concepts. ;-)

    (Note: I am not saying all EEs are useless when it comes to software. Some are quite brilliant at software. And I know brilliant software engineers who don’t know the difference between a worm and a bot because it’s outside their area of interest.)

  16. #17 Chris
    February 18, 2010

    Calli, according to the Rationwiki bio, Schlafly was a hardware engineer who worked for Intel. Of course that was thirty years ago and things have changed quite a bit.

  17. #18 James Sweet
    February 18, 2010

    Calli, according to the Rationwiki bio, Schlafly was a hardware engineer who worked for Intel. Of course that was thirty years ago and things have changed quite a bit.

    To back up Calli… I work with some hardware engineers. I am not surprised to find another hardware engineer who is ignorant of practical computer concepts. Insert same disclaimer as Calli about this not applying universally.

  18. #19 Don
    February 21, 2010

    There is a huge difference between a whistle blower and a nasty “nurse ratchet” trying to impose her opinions on otherwise pleased and happy patients. The real story is her own lack of ethics and the fact that no one was pleased to with with her.

    Complicating who to believe is the recent news that many “clinical studies” done by Dr. Scott Reuben. Read this:http://www.naturalnews.com/028194_Scott_Reuben_research_fraud.html Yes it id from natural news, that makes it false? dont think so, in fact I would bet that none of his research, all well documented, could be faulted…

    So we have doctors lying to us again, and all the Big Pharma knew this. So who do you trust? Trust nature, not money hungry corporations that will do anything to get you to buy their products.

    Google for a few more answers to these questions, or Bing it if you like.

  19. #20 Chris
    February 21, 2010

    Don, Natural News is one of the places on the internet that is covered by a modified Scopie’s Law:

    In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to, NaturalNews, Rense, PrisonPlanet, InfoWars and the like as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.

    Oh, and if you didn’t notice the jury found her not guilty in less than an hour.

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