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Study: many nursing home employees have criminal records

In a new study performed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was learned that approximately five percent of nursing home employees have at least one criminal conviction. DHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson says that the lack of continuity in state requirements for nursing home background checks has led to this alarmingly high number.

According to the study, more than 90 percent of nursing homes in New Jersey and throughout the country employ at least one person who has been convicted of a crime, with approximately half employing five or more people with criminal records. Experts say that the placement of convicted offenders in nursing aides and similar positions can lead to an increase in the occurrence of nursing home abuse or neglect such as physical mistreatment, intentional harm or theft.

Because there is no federal standard for the requirement of background checks for nursing care providers, states have widely differing regulations on the matter. Ten states require nursing homes to do a check of FBI and state criminal records, while 33 other require just a check of state records. The remaining seven states require no checks at all. This means that potential employees with criminal convictions may simply seek nursing home employment in a different state where they do not have a criminal record, and nursing homes would likely never catch on.

The most common offenses on employees' criminal records were drug crimes and crimes against property, such as theft or robbery. Convictions for assault and similar crimes against persons were not as common among employees, but they were present.

If you need advice about your family's legal options against a nursing home or care provider, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: New York Times, "Study Finds Criminal Pasts of Nursing Home Workers", Robert Pear, 2 March 2011

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