By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health
This will be a two-part blog series focusing on increased scrutiny given to license applications by state nursing boards following the suspension or revocation of 13 nursing licenses due to alleged fraud.
The first part will discuss the incident that initiated the heightened inquiry expected from state nursing boards, as well as the reciprocity process in licensing. The second part will discuss how these new and more extensive investigations will affect nurses and their employers.
A Case of Fraud.
Nurses seeking licensure by reciprocity should expect their applications to receive increased scrutiny by the licensing board based upon the recent events in Massachusetts. The State of Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing recently discovered more than a dozen nursing licenses it issued were obtained by fraud. The licenses were obtained by submitting fraudulent documents showing the individuals were licensed as nurses in other states. The Board revoked or suspended the licenses of those individuals and Massachusetts health regulators launched a statewide review of some 21,000 professional licenses for fake credentials. All of the fraudulent applications sought licensure in Massachusetts through reciprocity provisions in the state’s law.
Click here to read more details on the story.
Licensure by Reciprocity.
Most states offer licensure by reciprocity to nurses and other health care professionals that are licensed in other jurisdictions. Reciprocity broadly defined is a mutual exchange of privileges. In the matter of professional licensing, it is a provision that allows for a license from one state to be recognized as valid in another. Licensure by reciprocity allows a health care provider to forgo retaking examinations when seeking a license in a new jurisdiction. The normal process for licensure by reciprocity is for the board staff or an outside contractor to review the applications, verify the information and then make recommendations to the board. The board then acts upon the recommendations.
Forged Documents and Failed Verifications.
The 13 nurses alleged of fraud are said to have taken advantage of the reciprocity provision in Massachusetts. The investigation in Massachusetts revealed that four of the applications were submitted with forged documents purportedly from the Hawaii Board of Nursing. Additionally, six others had forged documents claiming the applicants were licenced in Alabama and in Oklahoma. The applications for licensure bore several similarities including signatures by improper officials for the states in which the applicants were allegedly licensed. It appears the process of vetting these candidates failed in the verification of the credentials.
The Massachusetts Board engaged Professional Credential Services of Nashville, as an outside contractor to review the applications and verify information submitted before professional licensing was extended by the state. Professional Credential Services is a contractor for numerous boards and those boards are also reviewing the applications previously processed by the company.
Not the First Time.
The Massachusetts Board is not the first state board to discover numerous licenses were issued based upon fraudulent information. Several years ago, the Florida Board of Massage Therapy discovered that a corrupt employee of a legitimate college with a legitimate massage therapy program had been taking cash payments from applicants and forging transcripts used to obtain massage therapy licenses. Some of the applicants actually had the required education and training necessary to become licensed, but the corrupt employee embezzled their payments without submitting their paperwork through the college.
The investigation in Florida eventually led to the corrupt employee, in part due to facts common to all cases. The fraudulent licenses discovered in Massachusetts also have some common elements that could indicate a single individual or a small group of individuals is responsible for all the fraudulent claims. To read about the massage therapy fraud case in Florida, click here to read our past blog.
Do you think nurses and other health care professionals should have to retake examinations when seeking a license in a new jurisdiction? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Lazar, Kay and Freyer, Felice J. “State finds license fraud by 13 nurses.” The Boston Globe: 13 Sept. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.
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About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
Keywords: Board of Nursing, Discipline, Board of Nursing attorney, Board of Nursing case, Board of Nursing lawyer, Board of Nursing representation, Florida Board of Nursing, Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing, Professional Credential Services, Florida Board of Massage Therapy, fraudulent credentials, fraudulent licenses, fraudulent applications, health law firm, licensed practical nurses, medical licensing board, licensure by reciprocity, nurse, nurse attorney, nurse lawyer, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, nurse representation, The Health Law Firm
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