In an investigation conducted by the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) and mandated by the Affordable Care Act, data showed that 19 percent of 1,611 nursing home aides disciplined for abuse, neglect and theft in 2010 had criminal records. Due diligence would have revealed this information through background checks that would have alerted facilities about the suitability of the hire.
The investigation used six broad categories of offenses to compile the data—crimes against persons, crimes against property, driving under the influence, driving-related crimes, drug-related crimes and other convictions such as prostitution, resisting arrest and weapons violations.
According to the OIG report, most of disciplined nurse aides had prior convictions in crimes against property such as shoplifting, burglary, theft and writing bad checks. A smaller number of had been found guilty of for crimes against a person. When disciplinary actions were compared to disciplined employee’s prior types of convictions, data showed direct correlation between the two.
Reporting employees found guilty of a crime that is committed during the course of care is a mandate under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, which requires each state to maintain a registry of all certified aides in the state. The registry also is a record of those who have been found guilty of abuse, neglect or theft. If a facility suspects that their residents have been abused, neglected or had their property stolen, the facility is required to conduct an investigation. If findings prove the charge against the nurse aide, his or her name should be entered into the registry.
The ACA (Section 6201) established a voluntary background check program. Participating states (including U.S. territories and the District of Columbia) received grants to establish programs for conducting background check programs on potential long-term care employees.