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August 3, 2018

Protect Your Senior Care Facility from Lawsuits and Be Prepared for the Possible Future:Begin Developing Your Nursing Home’s Resident Criminal Background Check Processes

A Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania nursing home is now paying $7.5 million after being held responsible for the sexual assault of one of its patients by a fellow resident. On the surface, that may sound incredibly unfair, but the details of the case highlight a growing problem in the senior care industry. The assailant was a man with a known criminal history of sexual misconduct, and the nursing home knew of his record. 

Old Man with Magnifying Glass

After reading that, it may seem obvious they should have denied him the opportunity to use their facilities, but that also gets rather sticky. That’s because doing so could have actually led to them being sued by the assailant and/or his family if they had removed him from the property before the assault occurred. 

Why? Because we live in a litigious society that insists on applicable processes being in place before they are necessary. If your facility does not have a standard, transparent process that all potential residents acknowledge and agree to submit themselves to, then they or their representatives could file suit for discrimination, perhaps even claiming that the criminal past was just the excuse, but you were actually denying them residence based on a protected status.

However, every states’ laws regarding whether checks are allowed, and what information in those checks may be used, varies. Still, it would be well worth everyone’s time in this industry to become more familiar with the laws and potentially get ahead of the game by protecting yourself with an established criminal background check policy.

When you are doing background checks, whether for residents or employees, make sure you aren’t just doing a national database search. Not all crimes are recorded at the national level, and even some that are supposed to slip through the cracks. That’s why every time you do a criminal background check, you should look at:

  • Federal Databases
  • State Databases
  • County Databases

In addition to criminal background checks, for your employees you should consider implementing the following, both initially and on a regular basis:

  • Drug Screening
  • Employment Verification
  • Education Verification

Data Facts is always ready to answer your questions about how we can help you navigate federal, state, and local laws for your business, as well as providing informative, educational blogs and webinars to help you stay educated on the latest in background screening information. If you want more helpful articles like this, subscribe to our blog to be notified of new posts as soon as they go live!

Be sure to check out our blogs on related content:

How to Set Up a Successful Background Screening Policy:

Checking Criminal Records 101: How, Where, and When:

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