The Missouri State Board of Nursing says employers need to be thorough in checking nurses’ certification. The case of a St. Louis area woman who’s been posing as a nurse for some 17 years is raising concern.
It might seem out of the ordinary, but fake nurses are exposed about once a year in Missouri. Quinn Lewis is the Investigations Administrator for the State Board of Nursing. Catherine Connor has been exposed as a repeat offender. Now she faces felony charges for presenting false credentials and working in health care facilities.
Lewis says the case stresses the importance of thorough checks. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing says as more employers verify license status with computerized databases, not paper records, imposters are having a tougher time flying under the radar. Lewis says Catherine Connor was found out because she presented documentation that was suspect … and she’s a repeat offender.He says the offense used to be a misdemeanor until legislation was passed a few years ago. She faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.
"We write articles in our newsletter, we give our employers red flags to look for if someone is trying to pass themselves off as a licensed nurse," he said.
"She sent up several red flags that had them call us, she was in our database as someone who has impostered herself as a nurse in the state of Missouri. It’s always been a problem, we have situations dating back to the ’70s where people have been impostering themselves as a nurse," Lewis said. "You’re talking to people who are performing procedures with other people’s lives in their hands. Anytime you’re going to have a higher degree of skill, you’re going to have a shortage and have people take advantage of that and try to slide under the radar."
He says Connor produced a copy of a license, not a license, or "pocket license" that all nurses are issued, and when she was pressed to give the original, she stalled and then misspelled the name on the license.