RD163 - Background Checks for Medical Practitioners

Executive Summary:

House Bill 1944 introduced by Delegate Purkey during the 2007 General Assembly Session would have:

• Required criminal history background checks for all individuals seeking initial licenses to practice medicine, osteopathic medicine, chiropractic, or podiatry.
• Authorized the Board of Medicine (Board), at its discretion, to require background checks of individuals seeking to renew licenses.
• Set forth approximately 30 crimes that conviction of which would prevent the Board from granting or renewing a license.

H.B. 1944 was passed by in the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, where it was requested by letter that JCHC study the issue.

JCHC staff determined that under current Virginia law:

• There is no requirement that an individual undergo a criminal background check as a requirement for license renewal or continued competency.
• There is no barrier crime law that specifically prohibits a person who has committed certain crimes from practicing medicine.
• The clerk of court in “which conviction of a felony or adjudication of incompetence or incapacity was made, who has knowledge that a practitioner has been convicted or found to be incapacitated or incompetent," shall have a duty to report these findings promptly to the Board" of Medicine.

* The Board must suspend the license or certificate upon notice (Code of Virginia § 54.1-2917).
* According to staff at the Department of Health Professions, the practice of reporting such findings never occurs.

Five policy options were presented for consideration by JCHC, who approved the option to request by letter of the Chairman that the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Compensation Board look into, and if necessary, address the extent to which clerks are adhering to the requirements of Code of Virginia § 54.1-2917.

On behalf of the Joint Commission and staff, I would like to thank staff of the Virginia Department of Health Professions for their assistance with this study.

Kim Snead
Executive Director
June 2008