All businesses face similar challenges when it comes to background screening. Challenges result from regulatory-driven requirements, compliance issues, liability mitigation… and the need to protect the organization’s image and reputation. But each industry faces its own unique challenges, particularly in the special case of the healthcare segment of the economy.

The healthcare industry is an aggregation and integration of sectors within the economic system that provides goods and services to treat patients or clients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care. It includes the generation and commercialization of goods and services lending themselves to maintaining and re-establishing health.

The modern healthcare industry is divided into many sectors and depends on teams of trained professionals, paraprofessionals and administrators to meet health needs of individuals, including “vulnerable populations” (minors aged 17 and under, people with disabilities, and individuals aged 60 and older). For example, even organizations treating patients for lice are considered by federal and state governments as members of the healthcare industry, since their personnel interact with clients – particularly young children.

Healthcare is an industry in which safety and trust are at stake with every hire – regardless of their level, position or responsibility. Extensive, professionally performed background screening help ensure that only the most appropriate personnel are entrusted with patient care – both directly and indirectly.

There is a developing government-sponsored drive to require healthcare workers to undergo background screening. In any event, failure to run background checks can be catastrophic. From lawsuits to reputational damage, an organization takes major risks when it opts not to run background checks on its prospective employees and volunteers, whether they be prospective or current. For current employees and volunteers, their personal situations can change at any time. In the healthcare field, the stakes are especially high.

Across the U.S., 36 states have laws requiring healthcare workers to undergo national security and criminal background checks. The remaining 14 do not as yet require, however they do encourage healthcare facilities to screen applicants prior to employment at a minimum.

In fact, federal healthcare laws require background screening in all 50 states, districts and territories. For example, Section 6201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) sets the requirements to conduct background checks on a statewide basis, but this is not the first federal statute requiring healthcare background checks.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been supportive of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint checks as part of the criminal background check for employment (based upon Public Law 92-544). The question is whether fingerprint results alone are adequate. Surprisingly, studies conducted by well-respected organizations have concluded that fingerprints alone only contain about 50 percent of all the crimes in the country.

Therefore to properly protect your organization, there is a need to include “best practices,” complete background checks through a reliable background screening company. Further, the firm must be a consumer reporting agency to help assure that the employer (client) also complies with the stringent requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi. President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening.