New Jersey hospitals would be required to report dangerous health care workers and not let them move from job to job under a bill passed by the state Senate yesterday, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The measure is an effort prevent future cases like that of Charles Cullen, the New Jersey nurse convicted of 23 murders and suspected in others. His case showed how easily a troubled health care worker could leave one hospital under a cloud and start fresh somewhere else.
Cullen was fired or forced out of at least six health care facilities, sometimes after investigations found serious problems. Hospitals did not alert future employers, allowing Cullen to move from hospital to hospital to kill more patients. The bill strengthens reporting requirements so hospitals can no longer fire a problem nurse and not tell anyone. It also provides legal immunity to hospitals that give truthful job references in good faith. “What is unimaginable and unbelievable is that Charles Cullen was able to move from health care facility to health care facility over the span of nearly two decades, even though wherever he went people found his behavior erratic, suspicious — even criminal,” Sen. Joseph Vitale said yesterday.