In Colorado, nurses with criminal convictions are free to continue nursing and re-offending. Colorado is one of just six states that does not require criminal background checks when issuing nursing licenses. Hawaii, New York, Maine, and Vermont are the 5 other states that rely on self-disclosure for nursing licenses and job applications.
As a result of lax nursing regulations, serious felons have slipped through the cracks. Some with sexual offenses, drug thefts, and violent crimes on their criminal records have been able to practice nursing after being barred in other states. Strangely, there are much stricter regulations in Colorado for other fields that do not even come close to nursing. Fingerprint submissions are required for massage therapists, private investigators, and operators of fantasy sports leagues. These fingerprints are used to check against state and FBI conviction records.
The nursing system in Colorado makes it too easy for those deemed unfit to nurse in other states to obtain and hold a Colorado nursing license that they can use in Colorado and in other states where they have not offended. Hospitals and healthcare employers claim they perform their own checks but nurses with criminal backgrounds continue to find employment throughout the state. To escalate matters, hospitals that discover a nurse’s criminal background are not required to report it to the state licensing board. Nurses can easily find other hospital jobs after they are let go from hospitals where they have re-offended or poorly performed.
The Denver Post reviewed hundreds of state nurse discipline records since 2010 to discover dozens which failed to reveal criminal convictions of the nurses and applicants who did not report them and continued to work, sometimes for several years. At least seven of these records failed to report nurses who had convictions for sexual crimes.
Four nurses in particular were able to continue nursing in Colorado with serious criminal convictions behind them. One nurse had been convicted of a felony offense at least five times, of which 3 were sexual offenses. He was able to nurse for over a decade in the state. Another nurse had pled guilty to sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled 12 year old on duty. Yet another used forged prescriptions to obtain the narcotic Oxycontin, and one faces felony criminal charges for unlawful sexual contact with drugged patients in addition to having a DWI on record.
Serious criminal convictions can stall your ability to seek employment, housing, and maintain a full quality of life. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense in Golden, or a federal offense, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney like Miller Leonard. As a former State Prosecuting Attorney, a State Public Defender, and a Special Assistant United States Attorney, he has the drive and dedication you need to obtain the best possible results. Call (720) 613-8783 or contact Golden Criminal Defense to schedule a free legal consultation.