MADISON (WKOW) -- Investigations into the licenses of teachers are noted in bold, red letters on the state's licensing website for the profession, while probes into the licenses held by nurses, doctors and dozens of other professionals are not publicly revealed.
Department of Safety and Professional Services executive assistant Greg Gasper tells 27 News the privacy approach is used to acknowledge a licensee's presumed innocence in the face of any complaint, and to protect professional reputations from meritless accusations, even though the department's legal team screens complaints initially to remove those deemed to lack enough substance to warrant investigation.
The approach also means visitors to the department's licensing website would see nothing to indicate any potential issue with a license-holder, including Baraboo nurse Stephanie McMillen.
McMillen faces a felony charge of attempted homicide, after authorities say she donned a wig and tried to lure the wife of her lover to a pond to kill her. A criminal complaint states McMillen researched the lethal capability of morphine after an amount of morphine disappeared from her hospital, although McMillen denies taking it.
McMillen has been placed on leave from her Portage hospital, and is free on $10,000 bail. But on the state's licensing website for nurses and other licensed professionals except teachers, her license status is simply listed as "current" and active, and in good standing since 2003.
Gasper confirms McMillen's license is the subject of a complaint and is being investigated, but says privacy rules prevent further comment.
Former Wisconsin nurse Krystal Bauer's license was revoked in 2008, after Bauer stole drugs from a Weston hospital. Records show Bauer hopped from state to state for a time stealing drugs from her medical employers.
Bauer now works in the restaurant industry in Iowa and is trying to regain her nurse's license there. Bauer tells 27 News even though privacy rules allowed her to stay one step ahead of disclosure about her conduct as she hopped between medical employers, she believes confidentiality should be part of the license's investigative stage.
"I think the public does need to be made aware once a thorough, complete investigation is done," Bauer says.
But Bauer says a nurse being investigated should be subject to tighter monitoring.
"When a nurse has to go under review, there has to be some sort of safeguard in place, that puts that nurse on lockdown, so she or he cannot go anywhere, they cannot practice, they cannot do anything, period, end of sentence."
Information on investigations of the licenses of teachers is displayed on the licensing website maintained by the state department of public instruction.
DPI spokesperson Patrick Gasper has yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News on the department's approach to disclosure of investigations.
Investigations of teachers and nurses, doctors and other licensed professionals can sometimes take months, even years. The DSPS' Gasper says 2,500 complaints are lodged annually against professionals licensed through his department.
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