A new government report has revealed that 92 percent of nursing homes employ at least one worker with at least one criminal conviction and almost half of the nursing homes studied employ five or more workers with at least one conviction.
The report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, Nursing Facilities’ Employment of Individuals with Criminal Convictions, also shows that while 43 states require, by law, nursing facilities to conduct some type of background check, eight states have no law requiring such a practice.
A criminal history background check has been conducted on “all individuals who were employed” from a random sample of 260 US nursing facilities and an analysis of criminal history records maintained by the FBI, notes that
92 percent of nursing facilities employed at least one individual with at least one criminal conviction.
The eight states that do not require a criminal background check are Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Hawaii. Although Hawaii has a statute requiring FBI checks, a state official there confirmed for the report that its nursing facilities are not required to conduct those checks.
Forty-four percent of those convictions were crimes against property, making it the most common crime among convicted employees. Thirteen percent of the convictions were crimes against persons.
Overall, the report also shows that, according to FBI-maintained criminal history records, one in five nursing facility workers had at least one conviction and
Nearly half of nursing facilities employed five or more individuals with at least one conviction.
A news release by the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Senator Herb Kohl, notes that
Because the current system of background checks is haphazard, inconsistent, and full of gaping holes in many states, predators can easily evade detection during the hiring process, securing jobs that allow them to assault, abuse, and steal from defenseless elders.
Nursing facilities have access to criminal background checks through various means, including the FBI, state law enforcement agencies, state abuse agencies and the National Sex Offender Registry.
Among the crimes reported in the study were crimes against persons (assault, rape, murder, battery, robbery), crimes against property (burglary, larceny, theft, vandalism, shoplifting, writing bad checks, possession of stolen property), driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving-related crimes other than DUI (open container violations, leaving the scene of an accident), drug-related crimes (sale of controlled substance, possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia), and other crimes (prostitution, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, weapons violations).
The inspector general report entered into an Information Transfer Agreement with the FBI to access its criminal history record database. Of the 35,286 names supplied to the FBI, criminal history information was provided for approximately 11,200 individuals, based on SSNs, date of birth, race and gender identifiers.