Scores of drug and sex offenders are licensed nurses in Texas, many of them unknown to a state licensing board that conducts few criminal background checks. the Dallas Morning News reports. Texas, like most states, does not prohibit felony offenders from working as nurses unless they have gone to prison. The Morning News, in an analysis of state records, also found dozens of licensed ex-convicts. It’s impossible to know whether any of the felons are harming patients, but victims’ rights advocates questioned whether nursing ought to be an option for felons, especially sex offenders.
“You probably don’t want somebody who is a registered sex offender being alone with you in a room where you are probably not completely dressed,” said Kristianne Hinkamp of the Dallas group Victims Outreach. The state relies on nurses to “self-report” their criminal convictions and deferred adjudications, in part because there is not enough funding to administer checks on everyone. Katherine Thomas, the state nursing board executive director, acknowledged that her agency “may not be aware” of nurses who have not self-reported their records. She said the board “would like an opportunity to investigate.”