Medical licensing officials successful aggregate states are scrambling to extremity nurses pinch fraudulent world credentials from caring for patients, aft 3 Florida schools were accused of trading thousands of bogus diplomas.
New York regulators told 903 nurses successful caller weeks to either surrender their licenses aliases beryllium they were decently educated. Delaware and Washington authorities officials person yanked dozens of nursing licenses. Texas revenge administrative charges against 23 nurses. More actions successful further states are expected.
In immoderate cases, lawyers for nan nurses contend states are questioning nan credentials of caregivers who earned diplomas legitimately. But there's wide statement successful nan manufacture that nurses pinch fraudulent degrees request to beryllium rooted out.
"The nationalist needs to cognize that erstwhile they’re nan astir fragile, erstwhile they’re sick, erstwhile they’re successful a infirmary bed, that nan individual who is astatine their bedside has gone done nan required training," said Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, president of nan American Nurses Association union.
States are acting successful nan aftermath of Operation Nightingale, a national investigation into what officials opportunity was a ligament fraud strategy successful which respective now-closed Florida nursing schools sold phony nursing diplomas and transcripts from 2016 to 2022. Twenty-five defendants, including schoolhouse owners and alleged recruiters, person been charged, U.S. Attorney for nan Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe announced successful precocious January. Those cases are pending.
About 7,600 students paid an mean of $15,000 for bogus diplomas, according to prosecutors. Around 2,400 of those group past passed a licensing exam to get jobs arsenic registered nurses and licensed applicable nurses aliases vocational nurses successful aggregate states, prosecutors say.
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How did truthful galore trial takers walk without nan required schoolroom and objective work? In immoderate cases, they were knowledgeable L.P.N.s seeking to go R.N.s. Some had been wellness attraction providers successful different countries.
The nurses sewage jobs crossed nan country, including astatine a infirmary successful Georgia, Veterans Affairs aesculapian centers successful Maryland and New York, a skilled nursing installation successful Ohio, and an assisted surviving installation successful New Jersey, according to tribunal filings.
Students came not only from Florida, but besides New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Delaware. Many of nan students took their licensing exam successful New York, wherever they tin beryllium it aggregate times, according to investigators.
Investigators identified nan Florida nursing schools arsenic nan Palm Beach School of Nursing; Siena College, a schoolhouse successful Broward County that wasn't related to nan assemblage of nan aforesaid sanction successful New York; and nan Sacred Heart International Institute, which was besides based successful Broward County and had nary narration to a assemblage pinch a akin sanction successful Connecticut.
US Attorney Markenzy Lapointe speaks astir a web of nursing schoolhouse operators who allowed students to bargain diplomas without nan due training during a property convention successful Miami, Florida, connected Jan. 25, 2023. (D.A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP, File)
It was not wholly clear really galore of nan astir 2,400 nurses pinch credentials from these schools are presently employed, aliases where.
Federal officials shared accusation truthful states could prosecute nurses pinch phony world credentials. Some states person taken action.
The Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission rescinded nan R.N. licenses of 17 group and denied licence applications for four. The Delaware Board of Nursing annulled 26 licenses. The Georgia Board of Nursing asked 22 nurses to voluntarily surrender their licenses.
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The 23 nurses facing imaginable licence revocations successful Texas tin proceed moving while their disciplinary cases are pending. Texas Board of Nursing wide counsel James "Dusty" Johnston said much charges could travel arsenic officials create "the basal accusation for each individual."
A spokesperson for Veterans Affairs said it removed 89 nurses "from diligent care" nationwide past twelvemonth instantly aft being notified by national officials. The agency has not recovered immoderate instances of patients being harmed.
New York's Office of nan Professions posted connected nan authorities acquisition department's website that it expects immoderate of nan 903 licensees who attended nan schools "did, successful fact, be required hours and clinicals and are decently licensed." Those group are being asked to person a qualified nursing programme taxable verification.
Attorneys for immoderate of nan nurses successful New York and Georgia opportunity nurses who legitimately earned diplomas are getting caught up successful nan investigation.
"There are evidently group who bought transcripts who are fraudulent and should not beryllium practicing nursing nether immoderate circumstances," said Atlanta lawyer Hahnah Williams. "But location are besides group who went to those schools legitimately and did thing wrong. And they are someway being lumped together pinch nan fraudulent nurses."
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Williams said her clients are hardworking immigrants who went to schools that were accredited astatine nan clip and person since worked for galore years without incident.
Similarly, lawyer Jordan Fensterman successful New York said he has clients who attended classes astatine 1 of nan schools to decorativeness up their R.N. degrees and past worked during nan pandemic. He said those nurses merit owed process now.
The authorities committee actions are taking spot arsenic hospitals crossed nan federation effort to woody pinch chronic staffing challenges.
"Hopefully, nan number is smaller erstwhile nan authorities benignant things out," said Kennedy, nan American Nurses Association president.