Why It’s Important to Vet New Nurses
Tennessee nurse Misty Dawn Venett was shocked to find out another woman with a similar name had been using her credentials to land healthcare jobs in the state, caring for patients without proper training or expertise. The woman, who shall remain anonymous, used Venett’s credentials to work for eight different home healthcare companies, putting the lives of these patients at risk. The case is currently being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as more details come into focus. Learn more about this shocking case and what can be done to prevent incidents like these from happening in the future.
How Venett Lost Control of Her Credentials
Misty Dawn Venett was unaware that someone else was using her credentials until December 2018 when the Tennessee Board of Nursing called to inform her of the situation. At this time, Venett started cooperating with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on the case.
The woman posing as Venett apparently stole Venett’s nursing license number, assumed her identity and began working various home healthcare jobs across the state. The woman started providing care to patients 13 years ago, putting countless lives in danger.
According to Venett, the woman impersonating her used an online database to find a nurse with a similar name and birthdate. She then used Venett’s licensing number to apply to jobs throughout the state.
Quantifying the Damage
While the investigation is still ongoing, the woman apparently used Venett’s credentials to go to work for a company that Venett herself used to work for, Amedisys Home Health, which operates over a dozen home healthcare locations across East Tennessee, caring for over 376,000 patients a year.
Amedisys Home Health recently reported that it fired an employee that falsified her identity. Kendra Kimmons, VP of marketing and communications for Amedisys, reported the woman to the Tennessee Board of Nursing. In a statement, Kimmons went on to say, “It is our understanding that this individual has a history of assuming multiple identities, which enabled her to evade the background checks of multiple healthcare employers in the area.”
While it’s unclear how many patients the woman cared for while posing as Venett, Amedisys has said it’s “found no evidence of patient harm or compromised information. We have contacted impacted patients and their physicians to share these developments. To give additional peace of mind, we are providing complimentary physician consultations and credit monitoring.”
Even if no patients were harmed during the incident, the consequences could have quickly spiraled out of control. Venett could have faced legal consequences if a patient was harmed while under the imposter’s care. From a legal standpoint, Venett would’ve had to prove another woman stole her identity in order to absolve herself of any criminal wrongdoing. If the imposter had access to Venett’s financial information or social security number, she could have damaged Venett financially as well. Amedisys could also face legal consequences for hiring the imposter and placing patients under her care.
How to Prevent Incidents Like These in the Future
All healthcare companies should get in the habit of thoroughly vetting potential job candidates, which must include obtaining a copy of the applicant’s nursing license, verifying credentials, reviewing former job descriptions and performance evaluations, and double-checking this information with references. Employers should also run a check on a nurse’s licensing number to make sure two nurses aren’t using the same credentials. Healthcare centers also need to invest in cybersecurity to make sure all employee data is safe from hackers.
Nurses should also refrain from uploading their personal information, including their nursing license number, to third-party apps and websites unless they’ve been vetted by someone they trust. Nurses should double-check with their state’s Board of Nursing if they receive suspicious emails or calls asking for their credentials.
As devastating as this situation could have been, these incidents can be prevented if both nurses and healthcare companies do everything they can to protect sensitive information and vet candidates before placing patients under their care.