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Here's a scary thought: over 90 percent of nursing homes employ at least one person with a criminal conviction, according to federal investigators, The New York Times reports. Of course that fact, by itself does seem rather vague and prone to scare people: obviously there is a big difference between a robbery conviction and jaywalking.
But nevertheless, the article aggressively pushes the angle that due to negligent hiring, criminals may be lurking where mom and pop play bingo. And the bigger point is that all employers need to select their employees carefully and do background checks when necessary.
"Our analysis of F.B.I. criminal history records revealed that 92 percent of nursing facilities employed at least one individual with at least one criminal conviction ... Nearly half of nursing facilities employed five or more individuals with at least one conviction," Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, told The New York Times.
One particular "nursing facility with a total of 164 employees had 34 employees with at least one conviction each."
So is it hype or is there reason to be seriously concerned? Count Dr. Charlene A. Harrington, among those that believe concern is in order and that there may be employer liability: "This sounds like a very important study. It cries out for additional regulation. Residents in these homes are so vulnerable," said Dr. Harrington, a professor at the School of Nursing of the University of California, San Francisco.
Having been convicted of any crime isn't supposed to bar people from employment in most industries, so why such concern when it comes to employer liability in nursing? According to Harrington, as the residents are so vulnerable, trust is key to their safety. Nursing home residents are vulnerable to abuse, theft, fraud, and more.
"Even some of the better nursing homes have problems with theft, rampant theft of residents' clothing and personal possessions, including jewelry." Dr. Harrington said.
The point here is clear. Whether you run a nursing home, or currently have any dealings with a retirement home or not, the article bears an important reminder: be careful about who you hire. You may be liable for negligent hiring under employer liability for not doing proper criminal background checks on employees.