Had Mitchell been found guilty of complaining about Rolando Arafiles' practices, malpractice in Texas might have been considered the same thing as corruption. Yep, that's right. The law Mitchell was accused of breaking, "misuse of official information," is actually covered under an abuse-of-power statute.
Mitchell's original complaint detailed some frightening practices by Arafiles.
Mitchell alleged that Arafiles had improperly prescribed herbal medicines he sold on the side and performed unauthorized surgical procedures.
In her letter to the medical board, she cited a skin graft she said he'd botched in the emergency room, where he did not have surgical privileges. She said Arafiles sutured a rubber tip to a patient's crushed finger for protection, an unconventional remedy that was later flagged as inappropriate by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Not surprisingly, the state medical board--which sanctioned Arafiles as late as 2006--sharply criticized the prosecution.
"Our mission at the Texas Medical Board is to protect patients through the regulation of doctors," said spokeswoman Leigh Hopper. "That said, we are a complaint-driven agency and the only way that we learn that something may be amiss with doctors is when it comes from co-workers, doctors, peers in the hospital, patients and patients' families.
"We take it very seriously, it's our job," she told ABCNews.com. "It's sort of an alarming idea that somebody reporting a doctor of concern has to be afraid of criminal charges."
As of this writing, Arafiles is still practicing family medicine. One can only hope it won't be for long.
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