Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Old Boys Network in Texas Medicine

This American Life featured a show about the Old Boys who live and work in red-neck, small town Kermit, Texas. It is a familiar thread man's inhumanity towards women.
It is about the incompetent male doctors, a crooked male lawyer, vs. female nurses - who chose to speak truth to power, following proper protocol, and ended up arrested. It is shocking.

The nurses, well-respected Anne Mitchell and Vickilynn Galle, thought they were protected, but faced a legal charge and the possibility of $10,000 fine and 10 years in jail.

It demonstrates how a doctor let go from larger town, Odessa, Texas, where no one spoke truth to power, allowed this doctor to move to another state, with limitations on his license, yet the Texas Medical Board failed to follow through in order to protect all its US citizens.
The story begs the question, how well do we monitor foreign-trained medical staff in North America?
Also, when doctors move to another province or state, how well are they followed? Where is the accountability to the citizens of the country?

A doctor who manages to work in two small towns, despite questions about his competence. Eventually Arafiles, the doctor, received notice from the Texas Medical Board that he was under investigation. The sheriff, a friend of said doctor, managed to find the names of the nurses, which were supposed to be confidential, and went after them in a shocking example of a travesty of justice.

The story has a good ending, although the grief these women suffered for outing a doctor taking patients off of thyroid medicine and putting them on non-FDA-approved concoctions that the doctor has others (in sort of a Ponzi scheme) sell privately. The nurses were charged with 'misuse of information', after reporting the medical treatment of their patients, were awarded $750,000 after they sued. Their accusers were charged with misuse of information, by taking confidential documents, including patient records, to go after the nurses.

To get more of the full story:


Originally aired 06.03.2011
Stories about standing up to the man—or, really, the men. Nurses at a small Texas hospital report a well-connected doctor for dangerous medical practices, and find themselves under arrest. Plus...how political operators in Chicago get to be judges.

In a small west Texas town called Kermit, two nurses were accused of harassment after they complained to the medical board that a doctor was putting patients in danger. The nurses were fired and then arrested, facing ten years in prison. Reporter Saul Elbein found that a group of powerful men in Kermit went to extreme and sometimes ridiculous lengths to try to bring down these nurses. Saul wrote a version of this story for the Texas Observer.

Intent To Harm

The new doctor in town was friendly, popular—and dangerous. Especially to the nurses who reported his bizarre treatments 

BEFORE EVERYTHING HAPPENED, NURSE ANNE MITCHELL SAYS KERMIT [Texas] had a good little hospital. “We had an excellent nursing staff. We had great doctors. We provided very, very good care.”
In 2008, when the trouble began, Winkler County Memorial Hospital was the pride of Kermit, one of the few new buildings and success stories in town. This flat, dusty burg of 5,000, 35 miles west of Odessa, is a ramshackle prairie town sprawling along Highway 18 in a motley collection of cinderblock and prefab siding. In the center of town, surrounded by a well-kept lawn and shuttered storefronts, sits a stately Depression-era courthouse. From any vantage point, you can see the face of Kermit the Frog, staring down at you from the water tower.

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