On March 2, 2011, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the results obtained from a survey of 260 nursing facilities randomly selected from among the nation’s 15,728 Medicare certified nursing facilities. The survey sought to determine whether individuals employed by those facilities on June 1, 2009 had ever been convicted of any type of crime. The findings of the survey show that:

  • 92.3% had at least one employee with a criminal conviction
  • 47.8% had at least five employees with criminal convictions
  • 16% of all employees had convictions after their date of employment
  • 73% of post-employment convictions occurred after the first year of employment

The survey found that 43.6% of convictions were crimes against property, 20.3% DUI, 16.2% drug-related, 11.9% driving-related other than DUI, 13.1% crimes against persons, and 26.4% other. Medicare regulations bar employment of persons convicted of abusing, neglecting or mistreating nursing facility residents or misappropriating their property. However, the survey did not attempt to determine whether the victims of the person and property related crimes were residents of nursing facilities.

Section 6201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires CMS to develop a National Background Check Program through a demonstration program with State agencies that is underway and runs through FFY 2012. The demonstration program currently includes ten states - California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Mexico, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Missouri, and Rhode Island. Many states, including Indiana, currently require criminal background checks when employment commences. Some state laws do not require periodic rechecks after employment begins. The HHS report findings suggest that nursing facilities should do periodic rechecks even if they are not currently required by law.

To view the report, visit: http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-09-00110.pdf