Audit: Tennessee Officials Put Patients at Risk By Not Vetting Caregivers

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Officials with the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities put patients at risk by hiring a person with a criminal conviction to care for them, according to Tennessee Comptrollers, in a new audit.

These same DIDD officials also did not properly perform sex offender registry checks nor did they always conduct work history and personal reference checks before they hired new employees, according to the audit.

State law requires DIDD officials to do criminal background checks on any employee who has direct contact or direct responsibility for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As for the person with the criminal conviction, Comptrollers said DIDD officials hired this person even after certain officials said no.

“The department’s Middle Tennessee regional office hired the employee as a Habilitation Therapy Tech at the Harold Jordan Center (in Nashville) even though both the Human Resources Director and the General Counsel recommended denial based on the Background Investigation Qualification Report,” Comptrollers wrote.

“The individual had a misdemeanor conviction involving theft that was less than a year old. The employee worked for the department from August 7, 2018, until November 29, 2018, when the employee did not show up to work. The department then discovered the employee had been arrested for violating parole, which resulted in termination of employment.”

A habilitation therapy tech helps patients with personal hygiene and grooming, preparing and serving meals, and administering medicine.

For this, DIDD officials blamed human error, according to the audit.

Comptrollers also reported that DIDD officials did not accurately perform a sex offender registry check for one of 60 employees (or 2 percent of employees).

“Specifically, the Human Resources staff member did not correctly spell the employee’s (then an applicant) last name, rendering the registry check ineffective for potentially identifying that employee as a sex offender,” Comptrollers wrote. “Our check of the sex offender registry yielded two potential name matches; however, we were able to verify that the employee’s date of birth was not the same as either of these names of registered offenders.”

Auditors also reported that for three out of 60 employees the regional offices did not check work history and references prior to the employees commencing work.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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