In less than an hour.

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.

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  1. #1 by Valerie on Sunday 14 February 2010 - 1059

    I still can’t believe this even made it into court! So happy for the nurse that she was acquitted, as she shouldn’t have even been charged in the first place. What a terrible thing for her to have to go through. And, yes, she should be compensated generously for everything she has been through. And, the medical board should review that doctors license.

  2. #2 by sassy on Sunday 14 February 2010 - 1110

    Thanks Valerie – for saying what was on my mind. Good news indeed!

  3. #3 by Doctor D on Monday 15 February 2010 - 1205

    This case was one of those I-can’t-even-believe-it-happened trials. The judge should have thrown it out, but hopefully now the nurses can seek punative damages against the good ol’ boys that tried to punish them for doing their jobs.

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