Certified Nurses Aides (“CNA”) perform an important role in delivering care to the elderly residents in nursing homes. It can be difficult work. Physically and emotionally taxing, particularly in facilities with high resident to aid ratios. But even in the best of facilities, the simple truth is that not everyone is cut out for this type of work. Caring for nursing home residents, who are frequently incontinent and with varying degrees of dementia, can be very challenging and calls for a person with a great deal of patience. Hiring incompetent persons for this role, or persons with poor temperament, can have devastating consequences for patients – including, but not limited to emotional and physical abuse.
The government has set up tools to help conscientious nursing home facilities in hiring & tracking CNAs. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 contains provisions designed to help assure quality care is delivered to residents of long-term care facilities. Specifically, the federal regulations (42 CFR § 483.156) require each State to establish and maintain a registry of persons who have been qualified to serve as nurse aides. These “nurse aide registries” are also required to include information about any substantiated finding of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property. If used properly, these registries can prevent persons with unacceptable past violation histories from being employed in long-term care facilities. These same regulations require that the states update their respective registry records within ten (10) days of any substantiated adverse finding, and to remove the records of nurse aides who have not performed nursing-related services for 24 consecutive months.
While state compliance with the data requirements imposed by the regulations has not been perfect, the registries provide an important screening tool which can be used by nursing homes to document workers when they are found guilty of abuse, and to keep from hiring past offenders.
Accidents can certainly happen at any facility, as a nursing home lawyer Trenton, NJ trusts understands. But keeping unsafe aides or those who have a past history of abusing the elderly from having a second chances with these vulnerable patients is critical. Psychological studies and statistics show that past behavior is the best predictor of future action. And, for professionals who have a history of betraying the trust of our senior citizens & their families, the risk of recidivist behaviors is simply too high; especially, where their past actions involve violence.
While healthcare facilities have access to these lists, there is no requirement that they actually use them. As such, it is still very important that family members pay attention to the care their loved ones are receiving at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Keep an eye out for changes in behavior, actions suggesting they are afraid of certain aids or nurses, and unexplained bruises or cuts that may be signs of abuse. It would be wise to consider searching the state registries for the names of the aids working with your family members yourself. And if you suspect abuse, in addition to reporting it, consider installing a nanny cam in your family member’s room.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Davis & Brusca, LLP for their insight into nursing home cases.