New law bans anonymous complaints about doctors, Texas, USA

Hospital

Some advocates predict chilling effect on willingness to complain

by Mary Ann Roser, Statesman.com 09/08/11.

A law that took effect this month bars the Texas Medical Board from considering complaints against doctors if they come from anonymous sources like the complaint from two Winkler County nurses who lost their jobs after anonymously urging the board to investigate a doctor in 2009.

The legislation was a victory for a physicians’ group that sued the medical board in December 2007 over allegations that it was abusing the anonymous complaint process. …

Some patients and their advocates said they fear the law will have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to complain and ultimately will harm patient safety.

Others, including lawmakers who worked on the legislation from both sides, said they don’t think it will have much effect.

The new law, House Bill 680, also requires the board to inform doctors when pharmaceutical companies and insurers file complaints against them.

Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle, nurses at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit in West Texas, were charged with felony misuse of official information and fired after officials learned they had filed an anonymous complaint with the medical board about the care being provided by one of the hospital’s doctors, Rolando Arafiles Jr. Arafiles got wind of the complaint and contacted Winkler County Sheriff Robert Roberts, a personal friend. Roberts seized the nurses’ computers and found their letter to the board and figured out their identities. …

The medical board also reprimanded Arafiles and put him on probation for his role in retaliating against the nurses, …

Retrieved 09/20/11. Full Story: new-law-bans-anonymous-complaints-about-doctors-1865789.html

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