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Proper Background Checks on Employees Can Reduce Risks at Nursing Homes

Chris Murray
Posted on: September 11, 2019 by Chris Murray

Every organization depends on its employees in its daily operations. Employees are the lifeblood of companies, performing the tasks that keep the business running efficiently. In the healthcare industry, such as in nursing homes, these employees may be asked to tackle complex challenges; their expertise and care are instrumental in patient care. Finding the right employees is a challenge all of its own, and many organizations utilize background checks to ensure the people they hire are qualified. Nursing home insurance is only part of a comprehensive risk management strategy. Background checks can also serve to reduce risks by protecting the facility itself as well as fellow staff members and patients. 

The Role of Background Checks in Nursing Homes

So-called “negligent hiring” is a significant threat to nursing home facilities across the United States. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report published in 2017, more than 90% of all nursing homes hire or hired employees with criminal convictions on their records. The potential for an expensive and embarrassing negligent hiring claim looms large; it is estimated that the average damages of such a claim exceeds $1 million, and in general, about 70% of all employers lose such claims. Federal regulations also play a part, with nursing home and other elder-care facilities forbidden from hiring employees that have been found guilty of certain crimes against patients, namely violence or neglect. State regulations governing the qualifications and criminal histories of certain employees in nursing homes may also necessitate a careful look at each new hire. 

To avoid the expenses associated with a legal claim and to help keep nursing home insurance policy costs from skyrocketing, employers must take steps to ensure their hires meet applicable standards. It has been shown time and again that thorough background checks can help to stave off the risks associated with a negligent hire. Not all background checks are the same, and in healthcare, a more expansive check is warranted. 

The Right Background Check: Protecting Staff and Patients

Now that the role of background checks in mitigating risks has been presented, how can nursing home employers select the right checks and features? There is no one “right” background check – employee screening services employ numerous strategies in vetting hires. However, there are certain features that should be a part of an extensive background screening, including:

  • Criminal history – covering municipal and state criminal databases for each address provided by the applicant. 
  • Name and address traces – going beyond addresses the applicant provides, an address trace pinpoints where an applicant has actually lived.
  • Previous employer verification – a critical part of the screening process, employer verification can turn up red flags in terms of qualifications and experience.
  • Sex offender registries – not always a part of criminal histories, checking sex offender databases can help to prevent a negligent hire. 
  • Motor vehicle reports – important if a hire will be expected to operate a facility-owned vehicle as part of his/her duties.
  • Health and Human Services reports – certain individuals are excluded from participation in federally-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid due to criminal histories or reports of fraud. Protecting the facility by checking with HHS is an important part of the screening process. 

It is of the utmost importance to remember that nursing home insurance is only one part of a risk management strategy for nursing homes. This insurance helps to protect the facility, its staff, and its patients from certain financial risks. By undertaking the process of careful background screening before hiring new personnel, nursing homes can further protect themselves from legal expenses, not to mention federal or state penalties for negligent hires. 

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 877.226.1027.

Posted in: blog Nursing Home