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More states push for nurse background checks

Feb 22, 2011 Matt Roesly

Lawmakers in Georgia and Maine are working to increase background checks performed for nursing applicants. Maine Public Broadcasting reports that Senator Chris Rector, a Republican, proposed a bill requiring criminal background checks on nurses, who currently do not have to submit to the pre-employment screening. Rector told Capitol News Service the checks would protect Maine citizens. "When you think about what we depend on our nurses to do, and access to controlled substances and a whole variety of other things, I think it's pretty important," he said. In Georgia, registered nurses have to submit to criminal background checks, but lawmakers may soon pass a bill extending the requirement to include people applying to become licensed practical nurses, WRDW-TV reports. Such precautions can prevent situations in which a nurse may steal valuables or even drugs from a patient, as happened in a recent case in Minnesota. A nurse there was recently accused of stealing painkillers from a patient undergoing kidney stone surgery. The woman, Sarah May Casaret, allegedly gave the man a fraction of the medicine he was supposed to receive, took some of it herself and refused to submit to drug testing after colleagues confronted her. She is currently seeking drug treatment.