nursing home employee showing name badgeYour loved one is vulnerable. You are trusting a Kentucky nursing home to care for her, but how much do you really know about the people who will be feeding, bathing, medicating, and taking care of her?

Kentucky Requires Some Nursing Home Employees to Get Background Checks

Nursing home employees whose duties may involve one-on-one contact with a nursing home resident should have criminal background checks completed before they are hired. The only exception to this law is for employees who are contracted to work at the nursing home and are already subject to a criminal background check as a condition of professional licensure. For example, doctors may have already completed a criminal background check as a condition of being licensed to practice medicine, so they would not have to undergo another review by the nursing home.

How Background Checks Work

Kentucky's criminal background check system is known as the Kentucky Applicant Registry and Employment Screening System (KARES).

The background check process begins when a nursing home logs into the KARES portal to submit a job applicant's information. KARES immediately informs the nursing home about whether the applicant is on any abuse registries and on the applicant's professional licensure status. If the applicant passes that part of the background check, the applicant moves on to a fingerprint background check.

The nursing home will provide the applicant with a barcode fingerprint form to take to a fingerprint site within 30 days. The applicant's fingerprints are then compared to the fingerprints in the Kentucky State Police (KSP) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) systems.

Once the applicant has been fingerprinted, the nursing home may hire the applicant provisionally for 60 days, even though the full background check is still pending.

Once the fingerprints are received, the National Background Check Program (NBCP) will review the Kentucky and FBI background checks to make a fitness determination about the applicant. The nursing home can review the fitness determination and state criminal history report from the KSP.

Disqualified applicants may appeal.

The KARES background check is not a one-time check. KARES offers a "continuous assessment" feature that will notify a nursing home if an active employee is arrested for a potentially disqualifying offense.

Disqualifying Offenses

A nursing home should not hire an applicant who has committed a Kentucky National Background Check Disqualifying Offense, as described in 906 KAR 1:190, Section 1(4) Disqualifying offenses include:

  • Inclusion on the Kentucky Nurse Aide Abuse Registry, Kentucky Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry, Kentucky Caregiver Misconduct Registry, Federal List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE), or any available abuse registry, including the abuse and neglect registries of another state
  • A crime described in 42 USC 1320a-7, including a conviction of a program-related crime, a conviction relating to patient abuse, a felony conviction related to healthcare fraud, a felony conviction related to a controlled substance, and other crimes
  • A substantiated finding of neglect, abuse, or misappropriation of property by a state or federal agency pursuant to an investigation conducted in accordance with 42 USC 1395i-3 or 1396r
  • Registration as a sex offender under federal law or the law of any state
  • An offense under a criminal statute of the United States or another state similar to other offenses on this list
  • A conviction, guilty plea, Alford plea, or plea of nolo contendere to one of the following types of misdemeanors: abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult or a child; a sexual offense; an assault including domestic violence that happened in the last seven years; stalking that occurred in the last seven years; theft that occurred in the last seven years; fraud that occurred in the last seven years; unlawful possession or trafficking in a legend drug or controlled substance in the last seven years; any other misdemeanor relating to abuse, neglect, or exploitation that occurred in the last seven years; cruelty to animals in the second degree that occurred in the last seven years.
  • A criminal offense against a victim who is a minor
  • A felony offense involving a child victim
  • A felony offense that violates specific Kentucky Statutes concerning: protection of adults, drug offenses, fraud, organized crime, criminal homicide, fetal homicide, assault, kidnapping, sexual offenses, burglary, criminal damage to property, arson, theft, robbery, forgery, escape or other offenses related to custody, riot, disorderly conduct, firearm or weapon violations, prostitution, pornography, and family offenses.

Criminal Background Checks Are Important, but They Won't Always Prevent Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

National criminal background checks may prevent people with criminal histories from working in Kentucky nursing homes. However, a background check won't prevent the employment of people who have committed crimes and not been caught, first-time abusers, or negligent employees.

Therefore, even if a criminal background check was done, abuse and neglect injuries are possible. As a family member, you may not have immediate access to an employee's background check. However, a nursing home abuse attorney may be able to access that information if there is a claim of negligent hiring or other forms of nursing home abuse or neglect.

If your loved one is in a nursing home, we encourage you to know the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and to call our experienced Kentucky nursing home abuse lawyers for a free and confidential consultation.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law