By Maureen ‘Shawn’ Kennedy, AJN editor in chief
On January 13, news from Texas let nurses everywhere take heart that, sometimes, the system works. According to a report by the Odessa American, the Winkler County, Texas, officials, Sheriff Robert Roberts and attorney Scott Tidwell, who had filed charges against whistleblower nurses Anne Mitchell and Vicki Galle, have been indicted on felony charges of misuse of official information. The hospital administrator who fired the two nurses, Stan Wiley, was also indicted. For more on the story, which we’ve kept a close eye on since October 2009 in our news reports and on this blog, see this ABC World News article; the Texas Nurses Association also has an archive of the case.
In a separate civil suit against the county, Mitchell and Galle were awarded $750,000. Very excellent.
Why is this so exciting and significant? The case outcome supports nurses who raise concerns about unsafe patient care and upholds the nurse’s right—duty, really—to advocate for patients. Hopefully, the nurses’ victory and the award from the civil suit will give pause to those who think they can intimidate nurses who are acting on good conscience and within legal and ethical boundaries.