Rhode Island Considers State Background Check Law for Healthcare Workers

Thorough criminal background checks are necessary for healthcare employees working in facilities with the elderly, children, and the disabled. So why are some states or hospital systems reluctant to screen every candidate before employment? As we saw in California, background checks on home healthcare workers aren’t done unless the person receiving the care (or relatives) requests one.

Rhode Island, on the other hand, sees the necessity of background checks in hiring healthcare workers, particularly for those who interact with elderly patients. A story in the Providence Journal explains that the state’s senior citizen population is increasing (20 percent of the state is predicted to be seniors by 2030), and the need for healthcare workers will grow with this amount. Nevertheless, the state does not have a background check policy in effect, leaving hospitals and healthcare facilities to screen candidates on their own. As a result, hospitals and facilities are not required to screen every job applicant, allowing for a greater chance of a caretaking position going to a former criminal.

Rhode Island’s proposal targets those with criminal histories who may take advantage of the elderly and disabled. Hospitals and healthcare facilities mainly run their background checks through the attorney general’s office, and usually only state records are examined. The potential law requires hospitals and healthcare facilities to conduct state and national background checks on every applicant.

Although a greater expense on the surface, conducting background checks on every candidate allows for safer healthcare facilities and builds up a staff of workers that do not pose a threat to patients. As we have seen many times on here, not conducting thorough background checks, be it for a teaching position in a school or to work in a nursing home or childcare facilities, puts those receiving care at risk and costs thousands of dollars down the line.