While background checks are common in most industries, they are particularly crucial in the healthcare sector. Federal and state-mandated regulations exist to try to ensure that employers are using best practices to hire professionals with the right medical background. Reliable Background Screening can help healthcare professionals in hiring employees who have been properly vetted so that they can be trusted with patient care
New hires must not only have the proper credentials and training, but they must also have a background that does not pose a risk with handling patients and sensitive information. The guide below explores the importance of healthcare background screening and what’s required for employers to protect themselves from costly and damaging compliance issues.
The Importance of Medical Background Checks
In the healthcare industry, people’s lives and well-being are placed on the line, and the need to mitigate risk is always high. Therefore, while running a thorough medical background check on every potential employee can be time-consuming, it is vital. Generally, healthcare background checks offer the following benefits to employers who choose to be proactive instead of reactive:
- Lowers the risk of malpractice suits
A malpractice lawsuit can be very costly for your company. A healthcare background check identifies candidates with a history of being sanctioned or having other disciplinary actions which could put your medical practice in jeopardy, should your firm be the subject of malpractice litigation. Healthcare background checks can help you avoid hiring an individual with a history of disciplinary actions and/or criminal convictions that would put your company at risk.
- Ensures quality care for clients
Your patients expect your medical practice to be a safe and secure workplace. All patients but especially those in vulnerable populations, can be subject to abuse at the hands of the wrong healthcare worker. Background checks on new hires will help ensure your patients, whose care is your responsibility, are protected as much as possible.
- Safeguards your reputation
Overall, healthcare background checks can safeguard your medical practice and your brand. For instance, they help you avoid employees who have been convicted of identity theft or credit card theft, who might easily harm your organization by disclosing a patient’s sensitive and private information. They also can protect you from employees with a criminal background of substance abuse.
What Are The Requirements for a Healthcare Background Check?
Requirements for a healthcare background check tend to vary based on the type of company, the position, and federal and local jurisdictional regulations. Our healthcare background screening includes the following:
Identity Verification Check
This check helps verify that the candidate is exactly who they say they are. Additionally, it enables you to perform all other background checks on the candidate that should be performed, based upon their name and address history.
Previous Employment and Education Verification
It’s essential only to hire applicants who have verifiable experience and who have the right qualifications for the job. In most cases, the applicant has to have at least some technical training and prior experience. Also, employment and education verification should always be done independently, either by your firm or by a third-party reliable background screening company. With the myriad of websites willing to sell false credentials and pay stubs and the widespread availability of desktop publishing that can also produce the same, employers should never rely on proof of employment or educational history provided by the applicant.
Multi-Jurisdictional “National” Criminal Database Search
Although no true national criminal database exists anywhere (even the FBI files have only about fifty percent of all the crimes in the nation), a multi-jurisdictional criminal database is a great tool to help locate criminal records, particularly from jurisdictions that may not be revealed based upon an individual’s address history. This comprehensive search can help enable you to uncover a candidate’s criminal records, as they include hundreds of millions of records on a national level. Just be careful, as not all criminal databases are the same. Many background screening companies will exclude the National Sex Offender Registry, as well as various domestic and international “watch lists,” requiring that they be purchased as a separate product (note that Reliable Background Screening always includes these lists as part of their CORE® Criminal Search).
National Sex Offender Search
This search identifies any candidates who are registered sex offenders. That means the person has been criminally charged with and convicted of or pled to a sex crime. Almost one million registered sex offenders reside in the U.S. Running this screening could help you limit potential abuse to all patients, and particularly those who are in vulnerable populations.
A history of substance abuse can be a significant red flag when checking an applicant’s health background. Healthcare workers usually have access to prescription drugs; it could be easy to abuse this privilege. One way to avoid this mishap can be through drug screening and background checks.
Government Exclusion Check
Also called a federal exclusion check or an excluded entities and individuals check, this search includes OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) and SDNs (Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List). These lists include terrorists, individuals involved with drug cartels, and other dangerous people.
It is critical to include this in your background check, as it is a federal crime to do any business, including employing someone on these lists. The punishment for working with these individuals can be as severe as ten (10) years in federal prison and a CMP (Civil Monetary Penalty) of $1 Million per occurrence.)
Healthcare Sanction Check
This search allows you to identify a healthcare worker who’s prohibited from participating in federally funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE. It could be because the person has a history of fraud, miscoding of medical procedures, defaulting on a federally insured student loan, violating accepted medical practices, and many more.
If you hire them, your organization could be barred from participating in government healthcare programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE. Further, your medical practice or other healthcare company can be subjected to an audit and very onerous fines that can bankrupt your firm. This search should particularly include the OIG (Office of Inspector General), the GSA (General Services Administration), state exclusion lists as well as countless others.
Additionally, most professionals in the medical field, such as nurses and doctors, have their behavior regulated by state licensing boards in the state they work in. A healthcare background check allows you to find information that shows a candidate may have fallen short of the standards expected of their profession.
In such cases, the candidate may have received sanctions from the relevant licensing board in the form of a fine, suspension, or disciplinary action. Knowing this information allows you to avoid employees who may be guilty of ethical misconduct or incompetency. This could further ensure your patients’ safety and confidentiality as well as your organization’s reputation.
Important Things to Know When Conducting Healthcare Background Screening
Besides knowing what to cover when examining a candidate’s background, you should also be aware of the following to ensure the process runs smoothly and correctly.
Let the candidate know that qualifying for the job entails passing a background check and drug screening. Be clear about precisely which checks you will be performing.
- Obtain written consent
The candidate must give their permission in writing before you conduct any background checks on them.
- Be aware of the timelines
It’s important to realize that obtaining all the search results from a background check is not instantaneous and can occasionally take weeks or more for some searches to be completed. While much information is quickly accessible, getting information from many courts can take longer.
- Be sure to choose a trusted and reliable background screening company and one that is also a reputable CRA (consumer reporting agency).
A knowledgeable CRA understands the intricacies of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA – the federal law that governs all background checks), and they can assist your firm with complying with its own disclosure and authorization requirements that the FCRA imposes upon your organization, as the employer.
- Make a conditional employment offer
When making a job offer, it is best to state that the employment offer is conditional upon the completion of a satisfactory background check and drug screening. Just ensure that your offer letter states if disqualifying information about the candidate is uncovered, the employment offer becomes null and void unless the candidate disputes the results. Even if a dispute is involved, the job offer is in limbo until the dispute is reinvestigated. If the reinvestigation confirms the background screening report to be correct, then the job offer becomes rescinded. Should the reinvestigation prove that the candidate was correct in their dispute, then you still have a qualified candidate to employ, which validates the need for this further due diligence.
- Deliver the required Adverse Action Notices
If you decide not to hire a candidate based on information uncovered by a background check, you must give them written notice to this effect. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires a Pre-Adverse Action Notice first, with a five calendar-day waiting period before the Adverse Action Notice is issued. You can deliver the Adverse Action Notices electronically or as a hard copy along with a copy of their background check report and the FCRA Summary of Rights.
Please also note that many state and local jurisdictions have Fair Chance Laws that mandate an Individualized Assessment and often also prescribe additional dispute procedures, which must be adhered to generally prior to the federal Adverse Action Notice requirements.
- Hear the applicant’s side of the story
As stated above, you must give the applicant a chance to dispute any inaccuracies in their background check report. Also, allow candidates to address their past criminal convictions – maybe let them acknowledge their mistakes and explain why they can still be a good fit for the position at hand. This is particularly important when Fair Chance Laws impose Individualized Assessments. It also is congruent with the guidelines that the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) issued in 2012.
- Stay compliant
Pre-employment background checks are governed by federal, state, and local jurisdictional laws. The Fair Reporting Credit Act (FRCA) is the federal law that requires that employers provide results and authorization forms that are compliant and dispose of background check results securely. There are also ban-the-box laws that may regulate how and when you can inquire about or perform a candidate’s criminal background check.
Are you ready to protect your business through exceptional quality background screening, drug screening, and expert advice? Contact us today, and be sure to subscribe below for future industry insights.
Posted by: Brett Troisi – Vice President, Reliable Background Screening
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