Proposed Legislation Requiring Background Checks For Healthcare Providers

A new bill—The Patient Safety Act—has been proposed that would require criminal background checks for healthcare providers, including doctors and nurses. The legislation would require fingerprint background checks for all applicants for license or renewal on and after September 1, 2017.  Colorado is one of five states that currently does not require background checks for nurses, and one of six that does not require it for doctors.

The healthcare providers who would be subject to the law are:

  • Podiatrists;
  • Dentists and dental hygienists;
  • Medical doctors;
  • Physician assistants;
  • Anesthesiologists;
  • Nurses;
  • Certified nurse aides;
  • Optometrists; and
  • Veterinarians

The licensee would submit a complete set of fingerprints to the licensing board, which would in turn submit them to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the purpose of conducting a fingerprint-based criminal history record check. The CBI would forward the fingerprints to the FBI.  The proposed law also allows the Board to acquire a name-based criminal history check for an applicant who has twice submitted to a fingerprint-based check and whose fingerprints are unclassifiable.

In addition, the law allows an applicant who has previously submitted fingerprints for State or local licensing purposes to request the use of the fingerprints on file. The current cost of a fingerprint search (CBI & FBI) is $38.50.

Under the proposed law, the Board shall use the background check to determine whether the applicant is qualified to hold a license. The results would be confidential, and the Board would not be permitted to release the results to the public or other state licensing boards.

Based upon the results of the background check, the Board would have the ability to deny a license if the applicant committed an act that is defined as unprofessional conduct or if the board determines that the applicant was convicted of, pled guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to, or received a deferred sentence to any of the following, regardless of whether the act was committed in Colorado:

  • Unlawful sexual behavior, as defined by C.R.S. § 16-22-102(9);
  • Diversion, as defined by C.R.S. § 18-18-309(1); or
  • Transfer of a substance with effects similar to the effects of a controlled substance from a licit to an illicit channel of distribution or use.

The following statutes define the behavior that the Boards consider “unprofessional conduct.”

  • Podiatrists: C.R.S. § 12-32-107(3).
  • Dentists and dental hygienists: C.R.S. § 12-35-129.
  • Medical doctors, physician assistants, anesthesiologists: C.R.S. § 12-36-117.
  • Nurses: C.R.S. § 12-38-117.
  • Certified nurse aides: C.R.S. § 12-38.1-111.
  • Optometrists: C.R.S. § 12-40-118.
  • Veterinarians: C.R.S. § 12-64-111.

The bill was introduced in the House on January 20, 2017 and is currently under consideration. To track the status or read the full text of the bill, visit http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb17-1121.

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