A West Texas jury took but an hour Thursday to acquit a nurse who had been charged with a felony after alerting the state medical board that a doctor at her hospital was practicing unsafe medicine.
The uncommon prosecution had ignited deep concern among health care workers and advocates for whistle-blowers about a potential chilling effect on the reporting of malpractice.
But after a four-day trial in Andrews, Tex., a state court jury quickly found that the nurse, Anne Mitchell, was not guilty of the third-degree felony charge of “misuse of official information.” Conviction could have carried a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
A civil suit is now pending against the hospital, sheriff, and physician. Let’s hope they’re all spanked thoroughly, and the nurses involved get the best restitution of all: cold, hard cash.