Nursing Home Fingerprinting System
The State of Minnesota is engaging in a very ambitious effort to intensify criminal background checks for the tens of thousands of Minnesota caregivers and the program is expected to roll out by the end of July with new fingerprinting system. This comes after reports that many people with criminal histories have been caring for the elderly and other vulnerable adults.
Five nursing homes in Minnesota will be testing the new electronic system, which is focused on fingerprint-based background studies.
By January 2015, every newly hired person who cares for the elderly, children, and individuals with disabilities in state-licensed facilities will be required to submit their fingerprints and be photographed at designated locations across Minnesota.
Background Fingerprinting System
Over time, it is expected that 150,000 to 200,000 caregivers throughout the state will go through the new procedure, in what is considered the most ambitious expansion of screening for state caregivers since the state began requiring background checks well over 20 years ago.
The Human Services Commissioner said that the system will increase the speed and accuracy of background checks, while making sure Minnesota is in line with what other states are requiring. The background studies will be more accurate and the results will be more timely.
An investigation that was conducted by the Star Tribune in the fall of 2013 found that licensed nurses in the state are able to practice for years despite serious criminal convictions. Some of these convictions have involved assault and drug theft. Responding to the news reports, the Department of Human Services and the 2014legislature made the procedure tighter, using computer court records and fingerprinting.
As it stands, state authorities don’t have a way to know when a caregiver commits a crime. They tend to find out when a worker at a state-licensed facility doesn’t undergo another background check until they switch employers. As long as the worker remains with the same employer after the crime is committed, the offense can go undetected for a long period of time.
Approximately 250,000 caregivers in Minnesota undergo state background checks annually. Nearly 2,500 of them pass regardless of their criminal records. The Department of Human Services performs around 1,200 background checks each day, which means they do over 275,000 checks a year based on a person’s basic information. Around 85 percent of these background checks are completed in 48 hours. Others can be delayed for weeks because of false hits that result from people having similar names to those who have been convicted of a crime.
The new system will give regulators updates on any criminal proceedings so that they will know within hours that a caregiver has been convicted of a crime. This is expected to help cut down on such issues as medication errors and medication thefts in nursing homes, abuse, and nursing home neglect.
The money to start the new system comes from a $3 million grant awarded by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Minnesota will join approximately 18 other states that have adopted similar systems.
Adult Protection and Fingerprinting System
For more information from the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Health Facility Complaints concerning nursing homes, assisted living and other elder care providers view resolved complaints at the MDH website.
If you have concerns about financial exploitation or any other form of elder abuse or neglect contact Minnesota Elder Abuse Attorney Kenneth LaBore toll free at 612-743-9048 or toll free at 1-888-452-6589 or by email at KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com.