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Do Ohio Nursing Homes Conduct Background Checks Before Hiring New Staff?

December 4, 2023

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Yes, Ohio nursing homes are required by law to conduct background checks on their employees.

According to Section 3721.121 of the Ohio Revised Code, ”the chief administrator of a home or adult day-care program shall request that the superintendent of the bureau of criminal identification and investigation conduct a criminal records check of each applicant.”

What Do Background Checks Look for?

Background checks for employees in nursing homes typically involve a thorough review of an applicant's personal and professional history. This helps to ensure that candidates are suitable for providing care to vulnerable populations, such as older individuals and those with medical conditions that limit their ability to perform tasks of daily living.

The specific components of a nursing home background check can vary by facility and local regulations, but they generally include:

  • Criminal History—Nursing homes typically check an applicant's criminal record to identify any past convictions. This may include searching for offenses such as violent crimes, abuse, neglect, theft, fraud, and other criminal activities.
  • Professional Licensing and Certification—Nursing homes verify an applicant's professional licenses and certifications to ensure they have the necessary qualifications and are in good standing with the relevant licensing boards.
  • Employment History—Nursing homes check an applicant's work history to verify their experience in the field and to ensure that they have not been terminated or disciplined for misconduct in previous relevant positions.
  • Reference Checks—Facilities often contact the references provided by the applicant to gather information about the individual's work ethic, character, and ability to provide care.
  • Education Verification—Educational background, including degrees and certifications, is typically confirmed to ensure that the applicant has the required qualifications for the position.
  • Social Services Record—Some background checks may include a review of an applicant's involvement with social services agencies, particularly if they have worked with vulnerable populations.
  • Sex Offender Registry—Nursing homes may check the national or state sex offender registries to determine if the applicant is listed.

Why Do Nursing Homes Conduct Background Checks on Their Employees?

Nursing homes perform background checks on employees for several important reasons:

Improving Patient Safety

Nursing homes are responsible for the care and well-being of vulnerable populations, including older persons and individuals with disabilities. Background checks help ensure that employees have a history free of criminal activity or abuse, reducing the risk of harm to residents.

Complying with Regulatory Requirements

In addition to the state of Ohio, many regulatory agencies, such as health departments and the federal government, mandate background checks for employees working in healthcare facilities. Compliance with these regulations is necessary to maintain licensure and certification.

Preventing Abuse and Neglect

Residents of nursing homes are vulnerable to physical abuse and neglect, as well as verbal abuse, financial abuse, and even sexual abuse. Background checks can help identify candidates with a history of abuse, neglect, or other harmful behaviors, which is crucial in preventing such incidents from occurring in a nursing home setting.

Building and Maintaining Trust and Credibility

Background checks demonstrate the nursing home's commitment to maintaining a safe and secure environment for residents. Families of residents and residents alike often expect a high level of trustworthiness and professionalism from those caring for them and their loved ones.

Failing to conduct thorough background checks on employees could expose nursing homes to legal liability if an employee with a problematic history harms a resident. Conducting these checks helps mitigate this risk.

Maintaining A Positive Reputation

Nursing homes that prioritize thorough employee background checks are more likely to establish a positive reputation in the community, attracting both residents and staff who value safety and quality care.

Conducting Employee Screening

Background checks can also help identify individuals with the right qualifications as well as experience relevant to the healthcare field, ensuring that employees are adequately prepared for their roles. Not all nursing home neglect is malicious; it can also occur when nursing homes understaff or hire inexperienced caregivers.

Background checks in nursing homes are essential for protecting the safety and well-being of residents, complying with regulations, and maintaining trust and credibility within the community. These checks are a fundamental part of the hiring process for healthcare facilities that serve vulnerable populations.

Background Checks Can Reduce the Risk of Neglect, But Not Eliminate It

Because nursing home residents are often of advanced age and/or in poor health, it’s important that they are cared for by people who are trustworthy and dependable. Hiring only employees who pass background checks can make it more likely that nursing homes will have staff members who take their jobs and their duty to residents seriously, but it doesn’t guarantee it.

If your loved one resides in a nursing home, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of neglect when you visit them. These signs can include:

Behavioral Signs

  • Emotional withdrawal or depression
  • Unusual changes in behavior, such as aggression, agitation, or fear
  • Sudden changes in alertness or engagement
  • Increased or sudden anxiety, especially around specific staff members

Neglect Signs

  • Poor hygiene, including unchanged adult diapers or soiled clothing
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Unsanitary living conditions, such as dirty bedding or rooms
  • Lack of assistance with mobility, leading to falls or injuries

Verbal or Emotional Abuse Signs

  • Verbal threats, humiliation, or belittling
  • Isolation or preventing residents from seeing family and friends
  • Yelling or frequent arguments with staff members
  • Witnessing staff members being disrespectful or aggressive

Our Ohio Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers Protect Vulnerable Residents

Most nursing home employees are wonderful people who do difficult jobs. They take pride in their work and their ability to improve the lives of vulnerable residents. Unfortunately, some employees’ negligence puts residents at risk of harm—and some nursing homes do little or nothing to prevent it from happening.

If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect, we want to help. Contact the Ohio nursing home neglect attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy today for a free case review.

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