Nurses and anyone interested in high quality patient care is probably breathing a sign of relief today, after yesterday’s acquittal of nurse Anne Mitchell, who was charged with a felony after reporting a physician to the Texas Medical Board. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-us-texas-nurse-acquitted,0,1220344.storyWarning to all — don’t sigh too soon. Mitchell’s acquittal only addresses part of the problem — the outrageous conduct of the Sheriff of Winkler County and the state of Texas for allowing him to continue with his harassment of an RN trying to do her duty to advocate for patient care. The fact remains, Mitchell is still out of a job, not to mentions thousands of dollars and immeasurable quantities of pain and suffering. While this sheriff hopefully has a very black eye and the county should be reconsidering his employment, nurses and anyone else worried about patient care still has a lot to worry about. Hospitals are still firing nurses who try to take on so called superiors in the so-called hospital food chain –which is far more toxic than nourishing. Nurses or any other nonelite player — and this includes junior doctors — will still be worried about reporting patient safety threats, if their reward is getting fired and potentially facing massive legal bills should their conduct be criminalized. Even if it’s not criminalized, there is a disturbing pattern of killing the messenger — at least from the employment point of view. More on this later. But for now, nurses and other patient safety advocates should be sending letters to Winkler County Hospital demanding that Winkler be reinstated, along with the other nurses who supported her. I believe the State of Texas Nurses Association is filling a suit against the hospital and the sheriff. Hooray for them. Folks need to rememeber this is not a narrow nursing issue, it’s about the future of patient safety.