CBS News did a study and found that ninety percent of the nursing homes in the nation hired employees with criminal convictions. According to CBS News, when the government ran background checks on employees in some 260 nursing homes, 92 percent of them had criminal records. Pretty remarkable.
This is not some curious group of do-gooders reporting that much of the healthcare industry is populated by convicted felons. This is the Inspector General for Health and Human Services. In half the nursing homes, the service found five or more employees had been hired with criminal records. Additionally, there are reports of abuse of patients, especially the elderly and the children. Some employees have prior records of abuse with the different reporting agencies. But they escape detection in the employment screening process by moving from state to state. Such evasive tactics as well as the documenting of shoddy background checks on the part of questionable healthcare recruiters and staffing agencies was reported in a joint Pulitzer Prize Winning Study, conducted by media watch dog, Pro Publica, and the Los Angeles Times.
Public officials are calling for more comprehensive background checks. David Capeless, District Attorney for Berkshire, Massachusetts, claimed that background checks are essential. Capeless recently filed criminal charges against three healthcare employees for abusing patients. Other public officials and critics insist to conduct the proper background checks, the verifying agencies must look across state lines. Local or regional searches are not nearly enough. As noted before, it's a common practice for convicted felons or sanctioned healthcare workers to move around from state to state to avoid detection.
Honestly, we are talking about vulnerable people who are easy prey for unscrupulous healthcare workers. With workers having criminal records and with instances of sex abuse and drug abuse, older patients and younger people are the happy hunting ground for such abusers.
Surely, people deserve a second chance. Some people commit and unlawful act or fall victim to substance abuse and then clean up their act and lead productive lives. Others, however, keep committing the same crimes over and over again. And if they are not vetted through a standardized and comprehensive employment screening program that includes a full complement of background checks, then they will continue to make a mockery of the system that purportedly oversees them.