Hospital Settles in Civil Case Involving Inadequate Background Check

By Michael Klazema on 9/24/2013
Five years ago, Certified Nursing Assistant Steven Farmer allegedly sexually assaulted six female patients while employed by Centennial Hills Hospital in Las Vegas NV. The charges against him include gross lewdness, indecent exposure, sexual assault, and lewdness with a child under 14. Though Farmer’s criminal trial has not yet begun, a civil case brought against the hospital has been settled out of court.

Attorneys representing the victims in the civil case argued that had the hospital conducted thorough background checks on all its staff, Farmer’s crimes could have been prevented.

Centennial Hills Hospital does have a rigorous background check process for its staff. However, Farmer was not hired as a staff member. He came to work at the hospital through an out-of-state temp agency and apparently no one investigated his background or work history.

Journalists have since discovered that Farmer had a history of inappropriate behavior at work. He was cited once for improper activity while working at a facility in California, and another Nevada hospital actually placed him on “Do Not Return” status just a month before he started work at Centennial. “Do Not Return” status is a huge, typically career-ending red flag in the nursing world.

According to one of the victims’ attorneys, the hospital seems to be taking the position that by outsourcing its hiring, it also outsourced all liability for anything employees hired by a third party might do. This position is not valid, as businesses can in fact be held responsible for the actions of contractors or staff hired by a third party.

A representative of the hospital testified that temp agency was used because the hospital was not fully staffed at the time of its opening in 2008. Even in the midst of a hectic time such as a grand opening, businesses can quickly and easily implement a contractor screening program using a tool like VendorSAFE from VendorSAFE allows employers to model their contractor screening process after the background check process they use for internal hires and deploy it free of charge to them to their community of vendors and contractors. This service ensures that all workers will be subjected to the same stringent background check protocols and extends the steps an employer can take to reduce the chances of negligent hiring and workplace crime incidents.

Had the hospital used a tool like VendorSAFE, it would have forced the temp agency to actually look into Farmer’s background and check his work references. Had the hospital known of Farmer’s past, they would not have failed in their obligation to protect patients by hiring this highly unsuitable employee.


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