Licensing Boards in California Step Up Criminal Background Checks for Health Care Workers

A statewide effort is underway to get fingerprints and criminal records on file for health care professionals licensed by the state. In a California Healthline Special Report by Deirdre Kennedy, a legal expert and government and union officials talk about the new campaign.

The Special Report includes comments from:

  • Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association labor union;
  • Dean Chalios, vice president of public policy with the California Dental Association;
  • Julianne D’Angelo Fellmeth, administrator at the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego; and
  • Luis Farias, spokesperson for the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

DCA estimates that more than 100,000 licensed health care workers are practicing with no finger prints or criminal records on file with the state boards that license them. The new campaign was prompted in part by a series published in the Los Angeles Times about health care workers who were able to keep their jobs in public hospitals and clinics despite being convicted of sex offenses, drug use, embezzlement and other crimes.

“The Department of Consumer Affairs feels very strongly about making sure that consumers have full confidence in the health professionals that they visit when needs arise, whether it be a doctor, a nurse or a dentist,” Farias said (Kennedy, California Healthline, 1/12).

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