• Notice of Proposed Amendments to the Health Care Worker Background Check Code
  • May 16, 2008
  • Law Firm: Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP - Chicago Office
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued a Notice of Proposed Amendments for the Health Care Worker Background Check Code, the regulations applying to the Health Care Worker Background Check Act. The heart of the amendments address the rules and procedures for initiating a fingerprint-based criminal history records check (fingerprint check). Health care employers must implement such a check upon hiring an employee who provides direct care to patients, residents or clients. Please note: the proposed amendments are not currently in effect. An open comment period on them runs until May 19, 2009, and it will likely take the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) some time to finalize and implement the regulations.

    The proposed amendments clarify that the regulations apply to unlicensed individuals who provide direct care. They also apply to individuals employed in long-term health care facilities who may not provide direct care, but might have access to residents and their living quarters, or to the residents’ financial, medical or personal records. In addition, staffing agencies and contractors/subcontractors must now also conduct fingerprint checks on their employees.

    Students are generally not included under the regulations. Exceptions exist for a student who is employed as a health care worker and provides direct care to patients, or is employed by a long-term health care facility and has access to residents and their living areas or their medical, financial or personal records. Educational entities that conduct nurse’s aide programs must also initiate pre-enrollment fingerprint checks on prospective students. 

    The regulations do not apply to individuals who neither provide occasional services nor come into contact with patients, residents or clients. In such situations employers are required to create policies defining the non-direct care employee positions.

    The regulations also do not apply to employees who have been continuously employed by a health care provider prior to and since October 1, 2007.