Fingerprinting And Health Professionals?

Have you been asked to submit your fingerprints to renew you license or certificate yet? If you have not, it will not be long. New requirements for fingerprints that are submitted to the FBI database and your state law enforcement agency are on the rise. And it does not have anything to do with no fly lists or Homeland Security.

It is an emerging trend made possible by technology. The database at the FBI can now check your fingerprints against a database of known criminal convictions anywhere in the United States, even if someone has changed names or used an alias. To protect patients, state licensing boards are asking health professionals to provide fingerprints.

Fingerprint checks began in California in 1990 with the state board of nursing requiring fingerprint-based background checks. At least 29 states are requiring it for physicians(2013) and 37 states require it for nursing (2014) and others for medical technologists and physical therapists. It has become broadly expanded in 2015 to other health professionals including, psychologists, radiologic technologists, respiratory care, physicists, long term care providers or personal care agencies.

The purpose is to screen current and/or prospective employees, licensees, contractors who have direct contact with vulnerable populations. Volunteers who have unsupervised direct contact with vulnerable populations may also be asked for a fingerprint-based background check as well as anyone age 13 or older living in a household where a licensed program is provided such as child care or foster care.

There are concerns among practitioners about the hassle and expense. Others say that it is ”just the arm of the government reaching into our personal lives further and further.” It is true that some of the background checks have deprived persons of their license or certificate to earn their living by denial of their application for renewal. This has happened even though the person had held a license or certificate from the State Board for many years.

Some state have defined the offenses which would disqualify the individual from renewal according to the severity of the offense and the disqualification period. Other State boards have denied renewals to individuals against a court order from a judge.

Those new to the idea are about to test their State Boards and find out the rule making which will affect their careers. Happy Fingerprinting!

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