A panel of lawmakers in Indiana recently approved a bill that would require physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians and other medical workers to submit to a criminal background check
when they apply for a new state license.
State boards would be able to deny, suspend or revoke the licenses of people who have criminal offenses which would affect their ability to perform their jobs, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Convictions for illegal drug possession, sex crimes or fraudulently obtaining controlled substances, among other offenses, would permit action against a worker's license. The bill would also allow state boards to randomly choose medical workers seeking license renewals to undergo criminal checks. Currently, approximately 200,000 people have licenses or certifications in one of the 20 professions the bill covers, the news source reports. In February, the state Senate passed a similar bill requiring criminal background checks
for all licensed health professionals. At the moment, licensed medical workers are only required to self-report arrests and convictions, DVM magazine reports. Senator Patricia Miller, who authored the bill, told the magazine that the current system leaves patients vulnerable. "In order to protect our Hoosier patients and families, we must ensure our workers in the health industry are held to the highest of expectations and standards," Miller said. Criminal background checks could be useful in the medical industry, where employees are privy to sensitive data such as patients' medical histories, insurance information and Social Security numbers. A computer storage device that held personal and medical records for approximately 70,000 patients was stolen in December, but the Family Planning Council in Philadelphia only recently made the breach public, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The flash drive holding the records, which included patients' names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, insurance numbers and Social Security numbers, was kept in another employee's desk. A former worker - who left the company on December 28 - the day the theft was discovered and reported to police - is accused of stealing the device, the newspaper reports. Kelly Stanton, the alleged thief, had an extensive criminal record and has been to prison multiple times over the past two decades. The council's executive director declined to tell the newspaper anything about the council's policy on background checks and pre-employment screening