Nurses in the News

September 1, 2009

A Catholic nurse in New York City is suing her hospital over allegations that she was forced to assist in an abortion; a Chicago-area facility has begun a nurse-led "laughter therapy" program for its disabled and mentally ill patients; nursing organizations are protesting the indictment of two Texas nurse whistleblowers.

A CATHOLIC NURSE IN NEW YORK CITY is suing her hospital, alleging that she was forced to assist in an abortion against her will. Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN, claims she would have risked losing her job at Mount Sinai Hospital if she didn't participate in the procedure involving a woman who was 22 weeks pregnant, according to a report in The Washington Times. Her lawsuit claims the hospital has been aware of her aversion to abortion since she interviewed for the position in 2004, but supervisors nonetheless refused to assign the procedure to another nurse when she requested it. The suit also claims she was told the patient's preeclampsia was life-threatening, but she later found out hospital records stated it was a "Category II" procedure, meaning the woman's life was not in immediate danger.

A FACILITY IN THE CHICAGO AREA has begun a "laughter therapy" program for its patients with developmental, physical, or emotional disabilities and/or mental illness, led by a nurse. Kathy O'Brien, RN, conducts regular laughter therapy sessions at the Sertoma Centre in Alsip, IL, which serves more than 600 individuals, according to a news release from the facility. The idea behind it is that laughter can help patients forget about their pain for a little while. "I just think that everyone needs to laugh, to have fun, no matter what their physical or mental abilities," O'Brien said.

SEVERAL NURSE ORGANIZATIONS AND OTHERS are protesting after two nurses who filed a complaint about a physician to the Texas Medical Board were indicted on charges of misuse of official information. Vicki Galle, RN, and Anne Mitchell, RN, each face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges, according to an Associated Press report. The charges stem from a complaint the nurses made claiming that Rolando Arafiles, MD, improperly encouraged his patients at Winkler County Memorial Hospital, Kermit, TX, to buy herbal medicines from him, and that he wanted to use hospital supplies to perform a procedure at a patient's home. Galle and Mitchell are accused of improperly using confidential medical records and filing the complaint in bad faith. The Texas Medical Board itself has opposed the prosecution in writing, and the Texas Nurses Association has established a legal defense fund for them.