NORTH CAROLINA - North Carolina's Board of Nursing has created what it calls an imposter alert about people who have claimed to be nurses, but really are not.
Eyewitness News reporter Jason Stoogenke spent weeks looking through those cases to see where these people worked, and what's being done to protect you.
Ronda White worked at Lake Medical Associates in Mooresville. A tipster told the state Board of Nursing that White was just a med tech, but telling patients she was a nurse, using that title on her voicemail and giving people injections.
Med techs can give shots but can't call themselves nurses.
Sarah Keller was working at Greenbriar Primary Care in Statesville. In fact, she still does. She's a med tech but the Board of Nursing said she referred to herself as a nurse on her work voicemail.
Dana Jenkins worked for Cigna Healthcare. According to the Board of Nursing's investigation, she wasn't a nurse or even a med tech -- she was in customer service.
Five years after she left, she apparently wrote a letter to a doctor saying Cigna may not cover a claim his office submitted. Jenkins's name was on it with a new title -- case management RN.
The Board of Nursing calls the three women imposters, and investigated them and sent them cease-and-desist letters.
The Board also passed along the files to local district attorney’s offices. Prosecutors didn't pursue the cases. In North Carolina, posing as a nurse is just a misdemeanor.
Either way, it doesn't sit well with patients like Charee Johnson, who use the same medical offices as these women.
She said she checks out her doctors but not her nurses.
“(Are) you surprised?" Eyewitness News asked.
“Yeah, I am. Kind of makes me want to ask questions now,” Johnson said.
Eyewitness News did ask questions. We went to Raleigh and sat with Donna Mooney, a nurse who used to work for the SBI. Now she works for the Board of Nursing and manages its discipline proceedings. Her team investigates tips and sends the cease-and-desist letters.
So Eyewitness News asked her how imposters get away with it, even for a little while.
“Nursing goes back to that old term that the old folks used to use that encompassed anybody that took care of somebody and so it's not unusual for the public to assume that the individual is licensed if they're calling themselves a nurse,” Mooney said.
But as for the individuals and their offices, White told Eyewitness News by phone that she never called herself a nurse, no matter what the board says.
Eyewitness News offered to share our research with her office, Lake Medical. It didn't want it.
Greenbriar Medical denied any wrongdoing at first, then emailed Eyewitness News to say: "This was corrected immediately and the issue was resolved with the nursing board. Patient care was never affected since all nursing decisions are made by the nurse practitioner."
As for Cigna, it emailed Eyewitness News saying, it "takes immediate and appropriate action when policy violations occur" but refused to be more specific.
The Board of Nursing said in-home care is an even bigger problem.
People hire so-called nurses who may have some training or experience in health care, but shouldn't be using the titles RN or LPN.
NC Board of Nursing website: http://www.ncbon.com/
NC Board of Nursing imposter list: http://www.ncbon.com/discipline/imposterfull.aspx
To file a complaint/tip with the NC Board of Nursing, click here.