department of health and social services
Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection
3101 Adult Abuse Registry
In compliance with the State's Administrative Procedures Act (APA - Title 29, Chapter 101 of the Delaware Code) and under the authority of Title 11 of the Delaware Code, Chapter 85, Section 8564, (g), Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) / Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection is proposing to amend the regulation governing the Adult Abuse Registry.
Any person who wishes to make written suggestions, compilations of data, testimony, briefs or other written materials concerning the proposed new regulations must submit same to Susan Del Pesco, Director, Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection, 3 Mill Road, Suite 308, Wilmington, DE 19806 or by fax to (302) 577-7291, February 28, 2010.
The action concerning the determination of whether to adopt the proposed regulation will be based upon the results of Department and Division staff analysis and the consideration of the comments and written materials filed by other interested persons.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSAL
The proposed change will amend the regulation to accommodate recent statutory changes allowing for on-line electronic access to information contained in the AA. Additionally, it expands the authority of DLTCRP to remove a person from the AAR before the expiration of his/her registration period where equity requires.
Delaware Code, Title 11, Ch. 85 § 8564 (g).
The Department supported a legislative initiative during the 2009 legislative session amending 11 Del.C. §8564 that permits employers to conduct mandated AAR checks of applicants for employment on-line. The legislation passed and was subsequently signed into law by Governor Markell.
Summary of Proposal
This proposal amends the regulation to accommodate the statutory amendment. Additionally, the current regulations authorize the Department to remove a person from the AAR before the expiration of his/her registration period when that person no longer poses a threat to any person receiving care. This change will also expand that authority to permit the removal of a person where equity requires.
3101 Adult Abuse Registry
"Abuse" shall have the same meaning as contained in 16 Del.C. §1131, and shall include mistreatment, neglect and financial exploitation as defined therein.
"Child Care Facility" means any child care facility which is required to be licensed by the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
"Contractor" means an entity under contract to provide services for more than 20 hours per week (aggregate) and for more than six weeks in a twelve month period for a health care service provider, and whose employees have the opportunity for direct access to persons receiving care. For purposes of these regulations, contractor does not include construction contractors.
"Department" means the Department of Health and Social Services.
"Direct Access" means the opportunity to have personal contact with persons receiving care during the course of one's assigned duties.
“Division" means the Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection.
"Health Care Service Provider" means any person or entity that provides services in a custodial or residential setting where health, nutritional or personal care is provided for persons receiving care, including but not limited to, hospitals, home health care agencies, adult care facilities, temporary employment agencies and contractors that place employees or otherwise provide services in custodial or residential settings for persons receiving care, and hospice agencies. Health Care Service Provider does not include any private individual who is seeking to hire a self-employed health caregiver in a private home.
"Nursing Facility and Similar Facility" means any facility required to be licensed under 16 Del.C. Ch. 11. This includes, but is not limited to, facilities commonly called nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities for persons with mental retardation, neighborhood group homes, family care homes and rest residential care facilities. Also included are the Stockley Center, the Delaware Psychiatric Center and hospitals certified by the Department of Health and Social Services pursuant to 16 Del.C. §5001 or 5136.
“Person Receiving Care" means any person who, because of his/her physical or mental condition, requires a level of care and services suitable to his/her needs to contribute to his/her health, comfort and welfare.
"Person Seeking Employment" means any person applying for employment with or in a health care service provider, nursing facility or similar facility that may afford direct access to persons receiving care at such facility, or a person applying for licensure to operate a child care facility or nursing facility and similar facility. It shall also include a self-employed health caregiver who has direct access in any private home.
"Substantiated Pending Appeal" refers to a placement on the Registry based on an investigative finding prior to the subject exercising his/her right to appeal.
"Substantiated Abuse" means that, weighing the facts and circumstances, a reasonable person has concluded by a preponderance of evidence that the identified individual has committed adult abuse for the purpose of placement on the Adult Abuse Registry.
2.1 No health care service provider, to include nursing and similar facilities, or child care facility shall hire any person seeking employment or retain any contractors without requesting and receiving conducting an a check of the person through the on-line Adult Abuse Registry check for such person available at the Division's website. The provider shall maintain a copy of the results of the check to demonstrate compliance with this requirement
2.1.1 Any employer who is required to request an Adult Abuse Registry check shall obtain a statement signed by the person seeking employment wherein the person authorizes a full release for the employer to obtain the information provided pursuant to such a check. Said authorization shall include the following language: "I hereby release the indicated employer to obtain from the Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection any information concerning me which may be on the Adult Abuse Registry pursuant to 11 Del.C. §8564."
2.1.2 When exigent circumstances exist which require an employer to fill a position in order to maintain the required or desired level of service, the employer may hire a person seeking employment on a conditional basis after the employer has requested an Adult Abuse Registry check.
2.1.3 The person shall be informed in writing, and shall acknowledge in writing, that his or her employment is conditional, and contingent upon receipt of the Adult Abuse Registry check.
2.2 Private individuals seeking to hire an individual to provide health care services in a private residence may request the Division to determine if the potential employee is listed on the Adult Abuse Registry conduct a check of the on-line Adult Abuse Registry available at the Division's website. A An individual who does not have access to the internet may submit short letter of request along with a release form signed by the prospective employee may be mailed or faxed to the Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection (DLTCRP) # 3 Mill Road, Suite 308, Wilmington, DE 19806, fax number (302) 577-6673 by mail or fax.
3.1 The Division shall investigate any individual against whom an allegation of adult abuse has been made in accordance with the time frames delineated in 16 Del.C. §1134(d).
3.2 If the investigation substantiates pending appeal that the alleged abuse occurred, the Division's Investigations Unit Chief shall enter on the Adult Abuse Registry, with a finding of "Substantiated Pending Appeal," the individual's name, date/time of the incident, a description of same and the length of time the finding shall remain on the Registry.
3.3 The Division may accept preliminary investigations by a state agency or an entity contracted by a state agency. The Division will review and may revise the findings upon further investigation.
3.4 Upon placement of a person on the Adult Abuse Registry, the Division will notify the facility from which the complaint originated as well as the current employer, if different, and the victim that the person is on the Registry as "Substantiated Pending Appeal."
4.1 An individual against whom an allegation is substantiated pending appeal shall be notified by certified mail at his/her home address, to be followed by written notice in care of his/her current employer at the discretion of the Division, that his/her name has been entered on the Adult Abuse Registry and shall be offered a right to an administrative hearing. The burden of proof in such hearing shall be on the Division. Individuals shall be informed upon completion of the investigation of the following:
4.1.1 The date and time of the incident if known.
4.1.2 The name and type of facility where the incident occurred.
4.1.3 A brief description of the incident.
4.1.4 Length of time the finding remains on the Adult Abuse Registry.
4.2 All requests for an administrative hearing must be received in writing, postmarked within 30 days of the date of the notice that a finding of abuse has been substantiated pending appeal. The Director or his/her designee shall dismiss untimely requests for hearing except when the individual submits evidence of good cause.
4.3 An individual who fails to request an administrative hearing as described above shall have his/her name and information regarding the incident changed from a finding of "Substantiated Pending Appeal" to a finding of "Substantiated Abuse" on the Adult Abuse Registry. At that time the Division shall notify the individual, the facility from which the complaint originated as well as the current employer, if different, and the victim that the individual is on the Registry with a finding of "Substantiated Abuse."
4.4 An individual who has entered a plea or who has been convicted by a court of law of a criminal offense based on the same conduct that resulted in placement on the Adult Abuse Registry shall have the right to an administrative hearing solely to challenge the proposed length of time of registration on the Adult Abuse Registry.
4.5 The hearing officer shall have the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence. Under no circumstance shall the hearing officer order the release of the investigative report and documents attached thereto, provided however, the hearing officer may order the release of statements of witnesses.
4.6 The hearing officer should receive requests for witnesses and/or the production of evidence no less than ten business days prior to the hearing date.
4.7 The individual shall be afforded an opportunity to appear with or without an attorney, submit documentary evidence, present witnesses, and question any witness the Division presents. Limited continuances shall be granted for good cause.
4.8 If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer concludes by a preponderance of evidence, that the identified individual has committed adult abuse, for the purpose of placement on the Adult Abuse Registry, a notice of "Substantiated Abuse" shall be placed on the Adult Abuse Registry. If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer concludes that the individual has not committed adult abuse, the finding of "Substantiated Pending Appeal" shall be removed from the Adult Abuse Registry.
4.9 The hearing officer shall render a written decision within thirty working days of the hearing and will notify the individual, the Division, the facility and the victim of the decision. The notice will specify the reasons for the decision and, if the finding is substantiated, the length of time the finding of substantiated abuse shall remain on the Adult Abuse Registry.
4.10 ) Any person placed on the Adult Abuse Registry shall have the right to appeal the decision within thirty days of the finding. The decision of the hearing officer may be appealed on the record to Superior Court. Appeals of hearing officer decisions are governed by the Administrative Procedures Act, Title 29, Chapter 101.
5.1 The length of time on the Adult Abuse Registry shall be based on the seriousness of the incident and whether there exists a pattern of adult abuse. Evidence of mitigating circumstances may be considered.
5.2 The names of registrants with findings of abuse, neglect or misappropriation entered on the Registry of Nurse Aides created pursuant to 42 CFR §483 shall be entered on the Adult Abuse Registry with a finding of substantiated abuse. There shall be a right of appeal for findings entered on the Adult Abuse Registry under this section solely to challenge the proposed length of time of registration on the Adult Abuse Registry.
5.3 Upon final disposition of the allegation, the Division shall notify, in writing, the victim, the facility where the incident occurred as well as the current employer of the individual, if different, of the final disposition.
6.1 The Department shall be authorized to remove a person from the Adult Abuse Registry before the expiration of his/her registration period when the Department deems that the person no longer poses a threat to any person receiving care in accordance with 11 Del.C. §8564(g) or where equity requires.
6.2 A person whose name has been placed on the Adult Abuse Registry shall have the right to petition the Division, in writing, for the removal of his/her name from the Registry. Said petitioner must demonstrate:
6.2.1 A minimum of twelve months has passed since his/her placement on the Registry.
6.2.2 Affirmative steps have been taken to correct behavior that led to placement on the Registry, i.e. anger management counseling, drug/alcohol treatment, sensitivity training, etc.
6.2.3 Demonstrated improved behavior through work references.
6.3 The Division will evaluate the information provided by the petitioner and respond in writing within 60 days of receipt of all information provided by the petitioner. The Division is authorized to grant or deny the removal based on the review of the information presented. If the Division denies the request, the petitioner may request a hearing to appeal the denial, or reapply for the removal after 6 months or when the petitioner can produce evidence of performance of the affirmative steps listed above.
Except as otherwise provided in these regulations, the dissemination of information contained in the Adult Abuse Registry shall be limited as follows:
7.1 Hearing Officer Opinions shall be released upon request to the following:
7.1.1 The subject of the hearing.
7.1.2 A victim identified by name in the record or his/her legal representative.
7.1.3 Law enforcement officials pursuant to an official investigation.
7.1.4 The Long Term Care Ombudsman pursuant to a complaint from a victim identified in the record.
7.1.5 The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Department of Justice.
7.1.6 The Division of Professional Regulation if a finding of substantiated abuse pertains to a licensed professional.
7.2 Investigative files shall be released upon request to:
7.2.1 Law enforcement officials pursuant to an official investigation.
7.2.2 The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Department of Justice.
7.2.3 Rights protection agencies otherwise entitled under applicable federal or state law.
In accordance with 42 CFR §483, the Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection will report findings of abuse to the Nurse Aide Registry under the following procedure:
1. When the Division has substantiated pending appeal a finding of abuse, neglect, mistreatment or financial exploitation against a certified nurse assistant, a determination will be made whether the substantiated findings meet the criteria required in the federal regulations or the criteria in state statute and regulations.
2. If the findings support the criteria for abuse, mistreatment or misappropriation of property in the federal regulations, the certified nurse assistant will be notified that his/her name is both reported to the Nurse Aide Registry and placed on the Adult Abuse Registry, and that he/she has a right to a hearing. The CNA will also be notified that, with regard to the Nurse Aide Registry, a substantiated finding will result in a lifetime prohibition against employment in a federally certified facility.
3. If the findings support the criteria for neglect in the federal regulations, the certified nurse assistant will be notified that his/her name is both reported to the Nurse Aide Registry and placed on the Adult Abuse Registry, and that he/she has a right to a hearing. The CNA will also be notified that, with regard to the Nurse Aide Registry, a substantiated finding of neglect will result in a lifetime prohibition against employment in a federally certified facility. However, the CNA will be further informed of his/ her right to petition the Division to have the report removed from the Nurse Aide Registry in accordance with §1819(g)(1)(D) of the Social Security Act.
4. The notice to the certified nurse assistant will include an explanation that the hearing described in the Adult Abuse Registry regulations will also consider the placement of the CNA on the Nurse Aide Registry. The CNA will be informed that if the evidence presented at a hearing does not warrant a finding of abuse, neglect, mistreatment or misappropriation of property under the federal regulations, the evidence will be considered to determine whether it meets the criteria for abuse, neglect, mistreatment or financial exploitation under the state Adult Abuse statute.