A recent article written by Patricia Borns that appeared in the News Leader, a Gannett newspaper, disclosed that the State of Virginia doesn’t do criminal history checks on nursing applicants. If you can believe this, “Virginia leaves it to the nursing applicant to report any substance abuse or criminal history on their licensing questionnaire. Due diligence is up to the employer, but that doesn’t always work, especially when nurses come here to practice from other states.”
“Twenty-four states, including Virginia, belong to the Nursing Licensure Compact that lets nurses practice across state lines without having to re-apply for a license. Traveling nurses with criminal or substance-abuse baggage are more likely to fly under the radar.”
Here’s what the Executive Director of the Virginia Board of Nursing had so say, “Virginia has been talking about running background checks at the time of licensing. It’s an important issue here, as it is nationally,” Quoting further, “One of the barriers to having more states join the compact is that not all states do pre-licensure criminal background checks,” Douglas said. “We are one of those states.”
Can you believe that? Nursing is one of those critically important occupations that deal with vulnerable populations on a daily basis. Without overstating the gravity of the importance of doing a background check, it seems clear that the state of Virginia is leaving itself totally vulnerable to charges of failure to use reasonable care when issuing nursing licenses.
One can’t help but wonder how irresponsible states like Virginia are being and the extent of the unacceptable risk of harm to which people are being subjected.