Federal Report: Many States Fail to Keep Nurse Aide Registries Up-to-Date

What is the Nurse Aide Registry?

According to various federal and state laws and regulations, states must create and maintain a nurse aide registry that is available to nursing homes and the general public. The registry must contain the following information:

• The full name of the individual nurse aide and his or her certification status in the state.
• The date the nurse aide became eligible to be placed on the registry.
• Any criminal convictions of the individual.
• Substantiated findings of abuse, neglect, mistreatment or misappropriation of resident property.

What is the Purpose of Nurse Aide Registries?

The purpose of nurse aide registries is to prevent nurse aides who have criminal convictions related to abuse and neglect or substantiated findings of abuse and neglect from being employed in nursing homes. Federal and state regulations prohibit nursing homes from hiring such individuals. Nursing homes are required to check the registry before hiring nurse aides and must periodically check the registry of current employees’ statuses on the registry. Such registries were designed to protect the residents from neglect, harm, or abuse.

Why are Registries Only Available for Nurse Aides?

While nursing homes are required to run a thorough background check on all employees, nurse aides, also referred to a certified nurse’s assistants (CNAs), play a key role in providing care to residents. CNAs have much direct contact with patients on a daily basis. Not only do CNAs feed and bathe residents, but they also transport them about the facility and assist residents in performing other routine tasks, such as getting in and out of bed. Because CNAs are entrusted to provide intimate care to the elderly, including changing incontinence briefs, nurse assistants are on the front lines of preventing and reporting the abuse and neglect of their patients. Nurse aide registries help to prevent CNAs with substantiated findings of abuse or neglect from working in any capacity with vulnerable residents.

Does New York Have a Nurse Aide Registry?

Yes. The registry is available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days per week. However, if a person checks the registry by phone, he or she needs the nurse aide’s certification number. The online version of the registry only requires the nurse aide’s name.

Are Nurse Aide Registries Effective?

The registries are effective, provided that they are routinely updated. Currently, states are required to update their registries within 10 days of receiving a report of any substantiated finding against a nurse aide. However, a 2005 government study revealed that many states were not updating their registries within the 10 day timeframe; many nurse aides substantiated findings weren’t updated on the registered until many months later. Moreover, many nurse aides who had substantiated findings against them in one state had certifications in other states, which did not report the findings on their registry. As a result, these nurse aides could potentially get employment in those other states.

Can Nurse Aides Be Taken Off the Registry?

Yes. States must eliminate nurse aides from the registry if they haven’t been employed for 24 consecutive months. Nurse aides with substantiated findings remain on the registry indefinitely. However, nurse aides with substantiated findings can petition the state one year after the finding to have the findings removed from the registry.

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