Keeping Patients Safe with Background Checks
By Roma Blackham, Marketing —
In 1985, serial killer Michael Swango was convicted for aggravated battery after he poisoned his co-workers in Illinois. Despite this conviction, he was later able to continue practicing medicine in South Dakota and subsequently fatally poisoned around 50 people. This tragic event leads us to question the licensure processes for doctors in America—and why there wasn’t a background check when Swango was hired the second time around. While South Dakota now requires background checks for physicians and nurses, there are still some states that do not require background checks.
Problems with Self-Disclosure
Colorado is one of the states not requiring background checks, trusting doctors to self-disclose any past criminal convictions. However, after a particularly scandalous year, it has begun to come to light the number of Colorado’s licensed doctors and nurses who have been convicted of drug offenses, violent crimes, tax evasion and fraud, and other criminal convictions. While the Hospitals in Colorado conduct their own background checks, the recent scandals suggest these are not enough.
One such scandal involved a surgical technologist who had a communicable disease dealing prescription drugs. Another scandal occurred in a Wal-Mart in Colorado when an Optometrist, Diego Posada, sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl. This was his second offence against a toddler, although the first complaint of assault was dismissed as an internal complaint and not reported to law enforcement. But after he was charged it came to light that nine years before, he had been convicted of a felony for aggravated battery and resisting arrest in Florida. Posada had not reported his previous criminal convictions. While Colorado does check licensee names against the Colorado Sex Offender Registry, doctors are often given special treatment when complaints or allegations arise.
When these kinds of scandals come to light, it becomes clear that states like Colorado need better licensing procedures. Background checks are a valuable tool for state medical boards, one that they should take advantage of for the safety of their patients. However, if states such as Colorado insist on not requiring background checks for licensure, there is something more they need to do. To ensure doctors are being honest, EyeDetect test can be incorporated in the licensing procedure. This alternative to polygraph tests is inexpensive, non-intrusive, and detects deception through analyzing the eyes. The incorporation of the EyeDetect tests would help to ensure that doctors do not intend to harm their patients.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.