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State Human Services department to bar 107 nurses with criminal pasts

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Acting on information provided by the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Department of Human Services will bar as many as 107 nurses with criminal histories from providing direct care to patients, the paper reports.

The action comes after the Star Tribune provided to the DHS names of 294 actively licensed nurses convicted of criminal offenses.

Some of the nurses were convicted of criminal sexual conduct, assault or fraud, which normally would disqualify them from working with patients, the Star Tribune says.

DHS Inspector General Jerry Kerber blamed the issue on gaps in its background check system.

In some instances, the agency relies on records from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which don’t show certain misdemeanors that would normally result in a nurse's disqualification.

As a result, the DHS will start using the Minnesota Court Information System, which reflects those offenses.

The DHS is prevented by state law to release names of the nurses that will be disqualified from practice.

Fox 9 aired a similar investigation in May 2012, which found the Minnesota Board of Nursing doesn't do separate background checks to verify if prospective nurses are telling the truth during the application process.

The executive director of the Nursing Board told the station that they relied on self-disclosure by applicants when answering the question, "Have you ever been convicted, entered a plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or no contest, for any felony, gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor offense?"

Minnesota was one of 14 states in the country at the time not to mandate criminal history checks before handing out a nursing license, Fox 9 said.

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