Bill: Upgrade background checks on Utah care-facility workers

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Utahns who have direct patient access in the state's 800 licensed care facilities rountinely undergo background checks. A bill that would place their results in a national database has won unanimous support from a legislative committee.

HB497, sponsored by Rep. Bradley Last, R-Hurricane, would use federal money to upgrade the screening system the state has had in place since 1998.

The bill would mean the workers, who often work in more than one facility or frequently change jobs, would no longer have to pay for multiple screenings, said Joel Hoffman, director of the Utah Health Department's Health Facility Licensing and Certification bureau.

Hoffman said that of 23,000 screenings conducted last year, 7,000 were duplicative.

Screening results are already tied into the FBI's database, but only regionally. The federal upgrade means the confidential results would be available to qualified authorities nationwide and would include any criminal actions against the worker taken after the screening.

The House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday advanced the bill, which next goes to the House.

Patty Henetz