In a move that would affect a large number of Filipino nurses working in the state, the California Board of Registered Nursing voted in favor of requiring all licensed nurses to submit fingerprints.(10.25.2008)
The unanimous vote by the board came after an LA Times and Propublica investigation found the California Board of Registered Nursing, the state’s nurse licensing board, allowed sex offenders, drug users and convicts to retain and renew their nursing permits.
“Effective immediately, upon renewal of an Registered Nurse [RN] license, the Board will require licensees to indicate if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony during the last renewal period,” posted the California Board of Nursing on its website. “Convictions must be reported even if they have been, dismissed, reduced, or expunged.”
The California Board of Nursing website added that violations of section 11368 of the Health and Safety Code (forged or altered prescriptions) must also be reported and that all traffic violations (under $300) involving alcohol, drugs, injury to persons, or providing false information must be reported.
Investigators at the LA Times and Propublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization, reviewed and analyzed more than 2,000 cases involving complaints and disciplinary actions on nurses since 2002.
The investigation found that in 115 recent cases the state did not pull a nurses license until that nurse racked up three or more criminal convictions.
“In some cases, nurses with felony records continue to have spotless licenses—even while serving time behind bars,” reported the LA Times and Propublica.
One of the nurses highlighted in the Times and Propublica investigation was a FilAm who is currently serving a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to siphoning Medicare out of more than $3 million.
Fil-Am nurse Haydee Parungao admitted in 2006 to billing Medicare for “hundreds of visits to Southern California patients that she never made, charging for visits while she was out of the country and while she was gambling at Southern California casinos.”
“Yet according to the state of California, she is a nurse in good standing, free to work in any hospital or medical clinic,” reported the Times and Propublica.
The Times and Propublica also found that the Board of Nursing continued to renew a man’s nursing license after he was imprisoned for attempted murder; a nurse who was charged with a DUI and suspended license; and a nurse from Calimesa who, according to the investigation, was in good standing “despite a felony conviction for lewd and lascivious acts with a child.”