Monday, February 8 marks the first day of the criminal trial for what has widely become known as the “Winkler County nurses” case, a disturbing case that has drawn national attention. In 2009, two Texas nurses anonymously reported their concerns about a physician to the state’s medical board. In their complaint, the nurses had said the doctor encouraged patients to buy herbal supplements from him and that he attempted to use hospital supplies to perform a procedure in a patient's home. After the physician filed a complaint of harassment with the local sheriff’s office, the nurses were then fired from their jobs, arrested, and indicted on third-degree–felony criminal charges.
In a surprising new development, prosecutors recently dismissed the criminal case against one of the nurses, Vicki Galle, RN. The American Nurses Association (ANA) is pleased that the prosecutor has dropped the charges against one of the nurses, but justice will not be served until both nurses are free of these criminal charges.
Now only one defendant, Anne Mitchell, RN, will be tried in the criminal case. Due to the intense publicity surrounding the case, the criminal trial was moved to Andrews, Texas, a nearby county. Both Galle and Mitchell are ANA/Texas Nursing Association (TNA) members.
In July 2009, ANA joined forces with TNA to strongly criticize and raise the alarm about the charges, and the fact that the results from this case could have a lasting and negative impact on future nurse whistle-blowers.
For the latest updates on the trial, visit TNA’s web site which will provide information via Twitter and Facebook.