Texas nurses indicted after filing board complaint against doctor

Is this a case of unhappy nurses acting on a vendetta against a doctor? Or has a doctor managed to criminalize the act of filing a complaint with the state Medical Board?

These are the questions that have the Texas medical community buzzing, after two nurses were indicted on charges of misuse of official information after filing a complaint with the medical board about a physician's standard of practice. The nurses, who worked for a county hospital in West Texas, face up to 10 years in prison and have already lost their jobs.

In their complaint, the nurses included medical record numbers of patients, but didn't provide the patients' names. According to County Sheriff Robert Roberts, whose department investigated the case, the nurses bypassed hospital policy for reporting bad medical practices, didn't ask the 10 patients for permission when they sent their medical records to the board and didn't act in good faith.

The sheriff's department investigated the matter when the doctor in question complained about being harassed, according to the Texas Nurses Association, which strongly disapproves of the charges.

The medical board, which also objects to the charges, has told the county and district attorneys that it is improper to prosecute the nurses because complaints are confidential and not subject to subpoena, and what's more, that the board is exempt from patient privacy laws.

So far, however, neither the Board nor the Nurses' Association seem to be getting anywhere. Kinda makes you wonder how connected that doctor is, doesn't it? (If you're a Texan and know who Dr. X is, please feel free to drop me a line.)

To learn more about the case:
- read this Fort Worth Star-Telegram piece