Texas Court Case And Florida Web Site Raise Questions About Effectiveness Of Physician Oversight

A Texas court case reveals gaps in physician oversight, The New York Times reports. "It was beyond [Anne Mitchell's] conception that she would be indicted and threatened with 10 years in prison for doing what she knew a nurse must: inform state regulators that a doctor at her rural hospital was practicing bad medicine." Mitchell was first jailed in June and will stand trial this week for "misuse of official information, a third-degree felony in Texas," after reporting a physician for using unorthodox procedures – some of which went awry – and practicing in an operating room where he did not have privileges. Mitchell says reporting the alleged transgressions was her responsibility as a nurse administrator. After the complaints were filed, the physician in question, Rolando G. Arafiles Jr., contacted the local sheriff, a friend and former patient, setting in motion the events that have led to Mitchell's unusual prosecution (Sack, 2/6).

Health News Florida: "Dr. Carlos Contreras has been in a federal prison since he pleaded guilty to health fraud in September 2008. But a state consumer web site still lists him in West Palm Beach with a 'clear and active' medical license -- and he's far from alone. It's the policy of Florida's Department of Health not to post public information about arrests and convictions until a professional licensing board takes final action, no matter how long that takes. ... The web site, which is supposed to inform the public about health professionals in the state, runs months and years behind real life" (Gentry, 2/5).

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