Session Title:

Panel: "Nursing in Today's Legal Environment"

Description: The pandemic has brought to light many concerns nurses have in the workplace including higher workloads, increased use of agency nurses, and the criminalization of negligence. Nurse educators need a better understanding of the legal landscape in New Mexico. This session brings together a panel of experts from the agencies who are receiving and investigating complaints as well as those who offer legal representation to nurses. Experts will be providing data around trends in complaints against nurses and healthcare facilities, real examples of legal cases, provide insight into how nurse educators can prepare students for success.
Date:  Friday, June 9, 2023
Time:  1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Flyer (PDF)

Ex-Nurse Convicted in Fatal Medication Error Gets Probation, New York Times, By Eduardo Medina, May 15, 2022



Ryan T. Sanders, Butt Thornton & Baehr PC

Ryan Sanders is a Shareholder with Butt Thornton & Baehr PC and serves as the Firm’s President. He is on the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association and serves as the Association’s President. He practices in multiple areas of complex civil litigation, including commercial, construction, medical, and catastrophic injury and wrongful death. He practices law in the State of New Mexico at both the state and federal level.

J.Martinez AG Deputy Director

Joseph Martinez, Deputy Director, Office of the Attorney General

Joseph Martinez is the Deputy Director of the New Mexico Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU). Prior to joining the NM MFCU in 2017, Joseph practiced civil litigation with the City of Albuquerque. He also served several years as an Assistant District Attorney where he focused on prosecuting white collar crime. Today, Joseph still enjoys being in the courtroom whenever possible and has prosecuted Medicaid fraud cases in almost every single one of New Mexico’s 13 Judicial Districts. Joseph has presented about the MFCUs Jurisdiction to the NM State Bar as well as in- house to the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. He is a graduate of the University of Akron School of Law and College of Business, J.D./M.B.A., and of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas B.S. Criminal Justice.

Michelle Varela, Nurse Investigator, Office of the Attorney General

Michelle Varela, RN, BSN, MSN, ACMA earned her Bachelor of Science degree and her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of New Mexico. She has over 30 years of nursing experience in acute care, case management, leadership, and home care. For the past five years, she’s worked as a Medical Care Investigator in the Medicaid Fraud Control Division (MFCU) for the New Mexico Attorney General. Where she actively looks into claims of patient exploitation, abuse, and neglect at healthcare facilities that accept Medicaid funds. Prior to this, she held the position of Unit Director at the University of Admitting at the University of New Mexico Hospital before taking the investigator position there. In that role, she oversaw the planning, execution, and evaluation of admissions, patient advocacy, case management, utilization review, and denial management across all UNM Hospitals. 

Sheena Ferguson

Sheena Ferguson, DNP, RN, ANA-I, Executive Director, NMBON 

Dr. Ferguson is currently the Executive Director of the New Mexico Board of Nursing. Accepted into the DNP program in January 2019, she retired from the Chief Nursing Officer position in July 2019 after 40 years at UNMH. In 2019-2020, Sheena was the convener of New Mexico Governor Lujan-Grisham’s task force on the state’s nursing workforce. She was also selected to represent New Mexico as the ANA-I fellow that year. At the Western Institute of Nursing conference in 2020, Sheena was the recipient of the J. E. Elliott Leadership Award in recognition of her work generating student scholarships. Sheena was also a task force member in the development of the New Mexico Safe Harbor program for Nurses.