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.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.