According to news reports, the Greenfield and Indianapolis police departments are involved in the investigation of a massive identity theft ring which apparently has Golden Living Nursing Home in Greenfield at the center of the investigation. According to the reports, there are more than 100 identities stolen and more than $100,000. Police, according to the reports, have indicated someone from inside the facility may be responsible.
As we have discussed in previous articles, nursing home patients can be particularly vulnerable to criminal activity due to possible physical and mental incapacity. We’ve discussed multiple examples of such activity, ranging from credit card theft to felony sexual battery charges.
One of the most important responsibilities of a nursing home is to diligently screen its potential employees, and to put in place systems to help ensure that its patients are protected from individuals who may foreseeably cause harm to the patient. Unfortunately, the nursing home industry is failing miserably in fulfilling this responsibility. A study was conducted by the Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General to determine the extent to which nursing facilities employed individuals with criminal convictions. The report found that more than 90% of U.S. nursing homes employ one or more people who have been convicted of at least one crime. The study also revealed that nearly half of the nursing home facilities employed five or more persons with at least one conviction.
Unfortunately, there is currently no national requirement mandating how a nursing home must conduct background checks. Only 10 states currently even require that nursing homes use both the FBI criminal background database along with state databases. The study’s author found that only relying upon state databases left large holes in the background check, allowing individuals convicted of crimes in one state to obtain nursing home jobs in other states.
It is hard to imagine that any family would knowingly allow an unknown convicted criminal into their home, much less allow them to administer medication to a loved one, or permit them to assist that loved one with bathing and other hygiene activities. Yet unbeknownst to patients and their families, the nursing home industry allows this to occur every day, in most every nursing home in the country.
So what can you do if you have had to place a loved one in a nursing home and are concerned about whether the staff can be trusted to provide proper care? You can ask the nursing home administrator directly how they go about checking the background of their employees. Among the questions you can ask are:
- • How do they check the background of their employees? If they only use state databases, then they may not know if the employee was convicted of a crime in another state.
- • How often do they run background checks? If they only check prior to their hiring, then they may have employees who have been convicted of crimes since their hiring still rendering care to patients.
- • Are they currently employing any employee with a criminal conviction? The facility may run background checks on direct care-givers (eg. nurses and nurse aides), but do they also run background checks on the janitorial staff, food service workers, independent contractors who work in the building, etc?
Finally, you can raise the issue with your state legislator. If there were public greater awareness of the fact that more than 90% of nursing homes are staffed with one or more convicted criminals, there would surely be support for legislation to ensure adequate background checks and to prohibit the hiring of such individuals.
Now is the time for society to hold accountable the nursing home industry that reaps great profits from its promise to protect and care for our society’s weakest individuals, then chooses to entrust the care of its vulnerable and dependent patients to convicted criminals.
What You Can Do
If you suspect a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, understanding the signs is an important first step in getting help. The next important step is to have the matter investigated by filing a complaint. You can find more information about filing a nursing home complaint here. We provide free assistance to anyone who needs help filing a nursing home complaint. Just call us.