Licensed health care pro­fes­sion­als in Minnesota whose behavior pre­sents an im­mi­nent risk of harm to their patients could be auto­mat­i­cal­ly sus­pend­ed un­der a bill passed Tues­day night by a Minnesota House committee.

The de­ter­mi­na­tion of risk would need to be made by a licens­ing board or a Health de­part­ment com­mis­sion­er, which would have 60 days to in­ves­ti­gate and hold a hear­ing with the health care pro­vid­er after a suspension.

That was one of sev­er­al pro­po­sals in­clud­ed in a bill that was prompt­ed by a se­ries of Star Tribune in­ves­ti­gat­ions last fall that found nurses have con­tinued to prac­tice de­spite crim­i­nal his­tories, including get­ting caught steal­ing drugs on the job and harm­ing pa­tients.

The House pro­pos­al, spon­sored by Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, would also re­voke the li­censes of near­ly all health care pro­vid­ers con­victed of most types of sex crimes. It would re­quire a 10-year wait­ing period fol­low­ing a sex of­fend­er’s re­lease from in­car­cer­a­tion be­fore that person could get a li­cense to prac­tice.

While a Senate ver­sion of the bill pre­sent­ed last week was heav­i­ly crit­i­cized by oth­er licens­ing boards and the Minnesota Nurses Assocation, the MNA en­dorsed the House ver­sion. In a state­ment, the MNA, the state’s larg­est nurs­ing un­ion, said the House ver­sion of the bill “of­fers the ne­ces­sary poli­cies for strength­en­ing pa­tient safe­ty and ad­dress­ing chemi­cal dependency as a chron­ic, man­age­able dis­ease.”

A pre­vi­ous ver­sion of the House bill mir­rored the Senate ver­sion, which re­quired an auto­mat­ic sus­pen­sion if a health care pro­fes­sion­al was kicked out of a state-run drug moni­tor­ing program. The up­dat­ed ver­sion pre­sent­ed Tues­day al­lowed the boards to sus­pend if the pro­fes­sion­al was dis­charged and the board be­lieved the per­son “pre­sents an im­mi­nent risk of harm.”

Liebling said she hopes to fix a gap in the sys­tem that al­lows a health pro­fes­sion­al to be dis­charged from the program but still be al­lowed to prac­tice be­fore a licens­ing board can in­ves­ti­gate.

“That gap pre­sents a re­al­ly un­ac­cept­able risk to the public,” she said.