A situation last year at a dialysis clinic in East Texas provides good reason for healthcare employers to double down on their background check protocols.
The Texas Board of Nursing says a woman there worked for about five months—from May 2017 to Oct. 2017—using registered nurse licensure information that didn’t belong to her. She also presented a fake employment history that said she’d been a nurse since 2011.
Stephanie Garcia, 29, who went by Stephanie Holcomb, has since been charged with fraudulent use or possession of identifying information and two counts of nursing regulations – license required to practice nursing, according to this story from the Marshall News Messenger. She was booked into jail last week.
A notice from the Texas Board of Nursing, available online here, says that an investigation eventually showed Garcia’s date of birth, social security number, and address didn’t match anyone with a license or privilege to practice within Texas.
Garcia’s lack of education and experience became evident to at least one patient at the Marshall-based Davita Dialysis clinic, according to the News Messenger. Judy Webb, the woman who reported her to the state board, told the paper that she decided to do so after “several questionable encounters” with Garcia, including instances in which Garcia couldn’t answer Webb’s questions.
Webb also told the paper that Garcia repeatedly failed to put the anti-clotting medication Heparin into her central venous catheter, which Webb says resulted in surgeries to replace the catheter “maybe twice a week.” Webb says Garcia was “messing with it, not knowing what she was doing.”
Bruce Holter, information specialist at the Texas Medical Board, tells me these sorts of “imposter” cases aren’t exceedingly rare (a trip through the board’s alerts about the cases, found here, confirms that; there were nine in 2017). But they are, by and large, preventable.
Free license checks can reveal fake or suspended licenses, and a little bit of additional effort from there—such as checking the name against multiple ID forms and a Google search—should be able to tell you whether you’re dealing with a legitimate nurse.
“There’s really no excuse for not going in and verifying,” says Holter.