A recent report revealed that low federal standards and inconsistent state regulations have created lapses in the types of employees hired by nursing home facilities. The majority of nursing homes hired staff with criminal convictions, according to the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) report in which investigators conducted background checks on all nursing home employees who were working on June 1, 2009 at 260 nursing homes across the nation. The report also revealed that 92 percent of the facilities had at least one employee on staff with a criminal conviction, and that five or more individuals with criminal records at just about half of the facilities. Nearly 98 percent of the facilities said they conducted criminal background checks on employees. Only 43 states mandate some sort of criminal background check and only 10, a state and FBI check. Checking in both formats enables nursing homes to see convictions over state lines; when both formats are not used, which occurs in the majority of cases, the inconsistency enables criminals to slip through the check if they have recently moved.
The offenses discovered included:
• crimes against persons, such as assault, battery, murder, rape, and robbery;
• crimes against property such as burglary, larceny, possession of stolen property, shoplifting, theft vandalism and writing bad checks; driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
• other driving related crimes such as leaving the scene of an accident or transporting an open container of alcohol in a vehicle;
• drug related crimes such as possession or sale of controlled substances and disorderly conduct, prostitution, resisting arrest or weapons violations.
A national program was created under President Obama’s health care law that standardizes federal and state nursing home background checks, but the program is voluntary. So what we have here, essentially, is a dysfunctional system being used to determine who will be responsible for providing care for our aging population during the most challenging time in their lives and a new law that is merely one small step in the right direction. If you or a loved one suffered injures due to negligence or abuse at a nursing home facility, please contact our firm for a free consultation.