Feds: 92% of Nursing Homes Staffed By Criminals

Cheryl Clark, March 3, 2011

A stunning number of the nation's nursing facilities – 92% in fact – employed at least one individual with a history of at least one criminal conviction, and one in 20 nursing employees had one criminal conviction or more.

That's according to a report released Wednesday by the Office of Inspector General, which reviewed criminal history records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a database called the FBI Interstate Identification Index.

The OIG urges the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to define employee classifications that are direct patient access employees and work with participating states to develop a list of state and local convictions that would disqualify an individual from employment in a nursing facility.

The report focused on a stratified random sample of 260 nursing facilities from 15,728 facilities certified to receive federal reimbursement for proving care to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries as of June 1, 2009. The OIG compared employee data with FBI criminal history records.

In one case, a nursing facility with 164 employees had 34 employees with at least one conviction each and all 34 had a total of 102 convictions which ranged from crimes against property, crimes against others, drug-related convictions, and drug-related offenses involving motor vehicles.

Federal law does not require that nursing facilities conduct state or federal background checks on their prospective or current employees, but federal regulations do prohibit Medicare and Medicaid eligible nursing facilities from employing individuals found guilty by a court of law of "abusing, neglecting, or mistreating residents."

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