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.