Indiana debates criminal background checks for all nurses

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Indiana state legislators are debating whether the state can afford to require criminal background checks for nurses, according to local news reports.

State Sen. Patricia Miller (R) plans to introduce legislation requiring the background checks during the 2011 legislative session, the Chicago Tribune reported. A federal program will provide states with $3 million toward the cost of conducting background checks on nursing home workers, but Indiana missed the June 25 deadline to announce its intent to participate in the program. Now, state officials are debating whether to apply for the program, and whether to pass some or all of the cost of background checks onto the nurses themselves, the Tribune reported.

Current Indiana state law asks nurses to self-report past criminal offenses when renewing their nursing licenses. While many nurses are honest about their backgrounds, many more criminal records go unreported, according to the Tribune. And while many hospitals in the state require the checks, other settings, including nursing homes, do not.