Temp Agencies Required to Perform Criminal Background Checks on Nurses and Aides, State Says

The state of Massachusetts recently announced that it will require temp agencies to check the criminal records of all agency nurses it assigns to provide patient care at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  Nursing homes are already required to perform criminal background checks on their staffs.  The state has a Criminal History Systems Board, which regulates its Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system.   
 
Everyone who commented on the announcement, including the senior vice president of the state‚Äôs largest trade association for long-term-care facilities, said criminal background checks are crucial to ensure the safety of vulnerable patients.  The temp agencies who complained about the measure argued that it created too great an administrative burden.  Read more about the state's efforts to require temp agencies to perform criminal background checks for staff it places at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
 
In Virginia, long term care facilities are required to perform criminal background checks on employees for crimes committed in Virginia, but not elsewhere.  I'm not aware of any requirement that at present requires temp agencies to perform criminal background checks on agency nurses and aides.  Massachusetts' efforts to require temp agencies to perform criminal background checks should be adopted in Virginia, but also require criminal background checks based on information from all 50 states.
 
The Attorney General's Office in Virginia recently proposed requiring nursing homes to obtain criminal histories from all 50 states before hiring an applicant.  When I was contacted by the Attorney General's Office for my thoughts, I was told the nursing home industry strongly opposed the proposed law because, as nursing home owners claimed, the cost of obtaining criminal history reports from all 50 states was too high!  

If the long terms care industry, including all nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health agencies, and temp agencies, formed a national information clearinghouse to save and exchange information about "bad" nurses and aides, including information about their criminal histories in all 50 states, no nurse or aide would be able to escape scrutiny by moving from one state to another to avoid scrutiny when trouble arises.  There is no reason why the benefits of information-sharing about criminal backgrounds of nurses and aides can't be spread beyond state borders.
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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.    

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