Home Health & Hospice

New OIG report calls for more background check standards in home health

Homecare Insider, May 18, 2015

Despite the uniquely intimate relationship between frontline staff and patients in the home health setting, there are no federal laws or regulations requiring agencies to conduct background checks on prospective or current employees, and state-level requirements vary widely—realities that have left some providers the industry susceptible to hiring employees with checkered pasts, a new report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) suggests.  
 
The May 2015 report, entitled Home Health Agencies Conducted Background Checks of Varying Types, found that 4% of employees in a sample of nearly 100 agencies had at least one criminal conviction, although it was unclear whether such convictions would have disqualified them from employment.
 
In addition, all studied agencies conducted background checks of varying types on prospective employees and approximately half also conducted periodic checks after the date of hire.
 
Based on these findings, the OIG recommends that CMS promote minimum background check standards in the home health sector.
 
“Because HHA employees provide care—usually unsupervised—to patients in their homes, ensuring that HHA employees have undergone a minimum level of screening would help protect the safety of Medicare beneficiaries,” the OIG report states.
 
To facilitate adoption of these minimum standards, the OIG suggests CMS encourage more states to participate in its National Background Check Program. CMS agreed with this agency’s recommendation.
 
To access the OIG's full report, click here.