The Employer's Legal Resource: New Statute Requires Background Checks for Healthcare Employees
The new Oklahoma Long Term Care Security Act mandates background checks on prospective employees and independent contractors who provide direct patient care services. The new law forbids employing or contracting with the applicant unless the background check is performed, and then forbids employing or contracting with an applicant whose background shows any of several disqualifying features.
The Act disqualifies anyone from being employed who has criminal history related to healthcare, who has been excluded from the Medicare or Medicaid programs, who has a history of abuse or exploitation or neglect of patients, or who has committed a sex offense or child or elder abuse. The Act requires the state to continue monitoring an employee for criminal and other disqualifying activity following the initial background check; this information is then revealed to the employer in order to terminate the employee or remove him from patient care duties.
The Act applies to nursing and specialized facilities, including residential facilities for mentally or developmentally disabled persons, residential care homes, adult day care centers, assisted living centers, continuum or care facilities, home healthcare agencies, hospices, providers of services under a Medicaid home-based and community-based waiver, and staffing agencies or others that provide care staff to other facilities.
Employees and contractors engaged before November 1, 2012 are not subject to the background check requirement. However, if they change employers after that date, they become subject to the background check requirement. The Act requires the state government to create an on-line mechanism to facilitate the background check process. Failure to comply with the background-check requirement will carry a fine of up to $3,000 and possible imprisonment.
By David J. Hyman, firstname.lastname@example.org