KAYSVILLE — A state agency that maintains certification of nursing assistants says its abuse registry now contains the names of 242 CNAs who were found to have abused, neglected or stolen from patients.
The Kaysville-based Utah Nursing Assistant Registry has more than 22,800 certified CNAs on record as of last week, according to data provided by the agency.
The UNAR also is the keeper of the CNA abuse registry, which each year adds several names of nurse’s aides identified in substantiated allegations of misconduct.
Six cases have been added so far in 2018, said Donelle Ricketts, UNAR director. In the previous five years combined, the abuse registry grew by 20 names.
The state tracks incidents such as those reported in October at Chancellor Gardens assisted living center in Clearfield.
CNA Jason Harold Knox, 30, was fired and charged with four felonies after authorities alleged he slammed an elderly male resident into a wall and drove an elbow into his abdomen. Second District Court charging documents said Knox also threw a female resident onto her bed.
Knox’s alleged actions could land him on the abuse registry if he is found guilty of the criminal charges. CNAs also may be added to the registry for neglecting or stealing from patients.
Ricketts said she’s concerned that criteria for the abuse registry might not be broad enough. For one, the abuse registry covers only CNAs working in activities covered by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Utah Department of Health investigators look into cases of alleged patient abuse by CNAs in federally funded locations. Substantiated cases generally are prosecuted by the Utah Attorney General's Office.
A substantiated case is communicated to Ricketts’ agency, which adds the CNA’s name to the abuse registry. A person placed on the registry loses CNA certification and remains on the abuse list until death or when a conviction is overturned.
“I know there are other offenses that might indicate that maybe that person shouldn’t be in the position of caring for vulnerable adults,” she said.
For example, a CNA convicted of a violent crime might be fired, but it would not affect his or her state CNA certification status.
In a previous interview, Ricketts said certification demonstrates that CNAs are "proven to have gone through training for minimum competency."
"It is not a reflection of their character," she said.
UNAR data shows that of the 242 people on the abuse registry, 149 were found to have committed abuse. Seven others neglected a patient and 52 more misappropriated a patient’s property. The remaining 34 cases were classified as unspecified.
“In my mind there is certainly more of it,” Ricketts said, although some of the increase may be due to better reporting and education among health care providers.
She said CNAs taking inappropriate photos or videos with their phones is increasing.
“They could be inappropriate or have nudity or something like having a resident sing or say things,” Ricketts said.
Employers check the certification and abuse registries when hiring people, Ricketts said. CNAs work under the direction of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Those nurses are under the jurisdiction of the Utah Division of Occupational Licensing.
When Knox was arrested, the registry showed his certification expired in 2013. The UNAR website says certifications must be renewed every two years.
At his Oct. 30 arraignment in Farmington, Knox pleaded not guilty to four charges of aggravated abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony.
Judge Glen R. Dawson reduced Knox’s bail to $35,000. It had been set at $60,000 upon his arrest Oct. 8.
Knox remains at the Davis County Jail pending a Nov. 19 pretrial hearing before Judge Michael Edwards.