When seeking a nursing home or long-term care facility for a loved one, you expect that the operating company or agency properly screens caretakers and other employees. Unfortunately, with more for-profit nursing homes cutting corners and costs, many victims are left in the hands of unscrupulous, even dangerous caretakers. In a case that unfolded this week, a felon was working at a Florida hospital for more than a year before authorities performed a background check and fired him.
Nurses, doctors and other medical professionals must take certain tests. While tests and licenses can indicate that an employee has had proper education and training, they may not tell the whole story. Our Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse attorneys are dedicated to protecting victims and exposing caretakers and facilities in the event of an injury or death. We understand that while legal action cannot reverse the damage that has been done, it can help bring justice for victims and ensure that future patients do not suffer abuse and neglect.
In February 2010, the nurse was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, violation of a domestic violence injunctions and violation of the conditions of his pretrial release. Without an appropriate background screening, the felon was hired by a mental health, substance abuse, and psychiatric hospital only five months after he was released from prison. The hospital failed to conduct an appropriate background check and never discovered that their new hire had third-degree felony convictions.
The felon-nurse was responsible for caring for patients, dispensing medications, and writing up medical reports. He was not fired until medical industry regulators conducted an investigation and informed the hospital that he was working illegally—his nursing license had been suspended prior to the hiring. He lost his license because of the assault charges and for failing to inform the department. In an administrative complaint filed against the felon, he was required to notify his employer and send a copy of the letter to the Department of Health.
The oversight in this case is another example of the dangers caused by failed background checks. While officials said that sometimes people “fall through the cracks,” they admit that no nurses should be working with a felony background. Fortunately, no one was hurt in this case, but the negligence and lack of oversight is alarming.
State health department records show that the felon received his nursing license in 2001. Currently, he still has a suspended license, but has the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to engage in safe nursing practices. He will also undergo and in-depth psychological evaluation. Florida Department of Corrections records indicate that he served a two-year prison sentence through February 2012. He was hired at the hospital only five months later.
This case is evidence that nursing homes are failing in their duties of care to patients.
Neglecting to perform a simple background check is just one example of egregious disregard. In the event of an injury, accident, or wrongful death caused by negligent hiring, a nursing home should be investigated and held accountable.
Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss suspected nursing home abuse and your rights.
More Blog Entries:
Florida Nursing Home Abuse; When Authorities are Slow to Act, Sept. 1, 2013, North Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog
When Elder Care Facilities Cling to Patients Whose Care Exceeds Their Abilities, Aug. 25, 2013, Coconut Creek Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog