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Doctors Behaving Badly: Cornered doctor turns on nurses, with the help of a friendly sheriff

Doctors Behaving Badly: Cornered doctor turns on nurses, with the help of a friendly sheriff

Picture of William Heisel

Nurses have one of the toughest jobs in health care.

Anyone who has delivered a baby in a hospital knows how much work they do, only to see all the credit go to the doctor who comes in for the final few minutes. How many photos have you seen of a nurse holding a brand new baby?

When things go badly awry, the nurses are often the first to get fingered (sometimes rightly so, as expertly described by Tracy Weber, Charles Ornstein and Maloy Moore in their series "When Caregivers Harm.") It is nearly a "never event" to find a nurse with enough confidence to actually accuse a doctor of doing something wrong.

Dr. Rolando Arafiles in the tiny town of Kermit, Texas, found himself the rare target of a nurse whistleblower. Two nurses, in fact, filed an anonymous complaint with the Texas Medical Board accusing Arafiles of using his medical office as a sales office for his herbal remedy business and of stealing hospital supplies. Arafiles was no stranger to the medical board. In 2007, the board issued the following:

On April 13, 2007, the board and Dr. Arafiles entered into an agreed order requiring that he complete additional continuing medical education in the areas of ethics, medical records and treatment of obesity; prohibiting him from supervising physician assistants or advanced nurse practitioners; and assessing an administrative penalty of $1,000. The action was based on allegations that Dr. Arafiles failed to adequately supervise a physician assistant and failed to make an independent medical professional decision about the protocol developed by the owner of the clinic.

Arafiles didn't take this latest complaint lightly. In explaining to the board what Arafiles allegedly had done, the nurses used anonymous identifiers for six patients. The hospital, being a very small operation, did not have many nurses who would have had access to this information, and it did not take Arafiles long to discover the nurses' names: Anne Mitchell and Vicki Galle.

Arafiles called the Winkler County sheriff, who happened to be a patient of his. Soon, the nurses found themselves fired by the hospital and indicted by the Winkler County Attorney for allegedly breaking Texas Penal Code 39.06, the misuse of official information.

Sound innocuous? It's a third degree felony that carries a maximum 10-year prison term.

The nurses aren't giving up, though. They have filed a lawsuit against Arafiles, the hospital and the county. Perhaps somewhere in all of these proceedings the truth about Arafiles, good or bad, will come out.

Even if he was intending nothing more than to protect his name, Arafiles has performed an invaluable service for dastardly doctors everywhere. Nurses now know their place. If they don't shut up and do as they are told, they might be hauled off to the pokey.

Watch for my interview with Clair Jordan, the executive director of the Texas Nurses Association, on Friday.


Picture of Christopher Farnsworth

That sheriff is a disgrace.

Picture of

Well, the problem seems to be specifically with Texas.  After all, is this not the same state that still allowed that quack murdering cardiologist who killed Michael Jackson to still have his license and practice <sic> medicine?  Sure enough, they'll let this quacko Arafiles suture gloves to folks and then go after the nurses who fingered him.  Simple rule: You want to die? Get health care in Texas!

Picture of

"Well, the problem seems to be specifically with Texas."

You sound like someone who stands too close to the microwave.

I have on file 11,000 convicted physicians, over just the last decade. How many from Texas? Not many.

We have 204 (that I know of) doctors in prison for murder, with another 19 awaiting trial. And Texas? Well, Nidel Hasan is a murderous lab coat nutcase, so maybe he ought to count for more than just one.

In the year 2009, 2,490 doctors were convicted of serious misbehavior. So far this year? 2,018 (that I know of) I'll gleefully do the math for you: it works out to be 10 physician convictions per each court calendar day of the year.

The pandemic of aggregious lab coat lunacy is an off-the-chart phenomenon. No other profession accounts for such damge to society in clearly quantifiable categories. The U.S. DOJ annual report reveals law enforcement spends 1/2 TRILLION tax dollars per year on physician-related crime and medical fraud.

My advice? Take a serious peak at:, and/or

You will then see there is nothing at all sacred about the statelines surrounding the Lone Star territory. From coast to shining coast, the 'Daffy Docs' of America are equal opportunity, 50-state fraternity of misfits. NO other profession comes close to these numbers.

But we didn't hear any of this during the 2-year 'Health Care' debate chatter, did we?

Ever see the cool picture of the three chimpanzees sitting on the floor, in total denial?

That's us.





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