Healthcare Background Checks - Best Practices for HR Managers

Healthcare Background Checks – Best Practices for HR Managers

When conducting background checks, including a national criminal search is standard practice. However, it may be helpful for healthcare employers to expand the search to include statewide searches, county records, and education and employment verification. Healthcare providers value their patients’ trust, so they seek to employ individuals with a record of trustworthiness. It is crucial to note that criminal convictions such as prescription drug theft, child or elder abuse, and drug-related offenses can be detrimental to a healthcare provider’s reputation. By conducting thorough background checks, healthcare employers can maintain a high level of trust with their patients and ensure the safety of their staff and clients.

Employment Verification

There are a lot of factors to consider when developing your healthcare background check policy. You want to ensure your screening process is consistent, fair, and thorough. It would be best if you also were sure that you’re only checking records relevant to the position for which you’re hiring someone. Another important consideration is that people who work in healthcare have direct access to patients, which means certain offenses will raise red flags and disqualify candidates from moving forward. Additionally, a federal exclusion search searches the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities database to identify if a candidate has a criminal record that would prevent them from being allowed to participate in healthcare programs funded by the United States government, such as Medicare. Lastly, consider what time frame you will screen applicants for. A seven-year lookback period is considered standard in most roles in the healthcare industry. However, you may need to go further back for more specialized positions. For example, running a motor vehicle check that lasts ten years makes sense if you hire an ambulance driver. That might not be necessary for doctors or nurses, but it’s crucial to keeping your patients safe.

Background Checks for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare is an industry that requires a great deal of skill, experience, judgment, discretion, and trustworthiness. This is a high-stakes field, and patients must feel confident that their doctors and nurses can be trusted to care for them and their sensitive health information. As a result, it’s important to run thorough background checks on all medical workers, whether they are doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or other support staff. These can include criminal history checks but must also cover education verifications, employment verification, and drug screenings. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure that alias searches are run to uncover potential fraud or misrepresentation. While a full background check is essential in any hiring process, healthcare backgrounds are particularly crucial because of the work environments and employee responsibilities involved. A simple mistake or fraud by a healthcare worker could have severe consequences for a patient. In addition, most healthcare professionals have access to drugs and medications — including powerful prescription medicines. A doctor or nurse with a history of substance abuse can put themselves, their colleagues, and the patients they serve in danger. As such, it’s essential to run drug screenings on all healthcare employees, including part-time and hourly hires, volunteers, interns, and fellows. Creating and maintaining consistent screening policies aligned with state and federal guidelines is essential.

Criminal History Checks

When you are hiring someone to work in a position that has substantial contact with children or to work in a job that involves the use of controlled substances, it is essential to run criminal background checks. Similarly, employees who work in the financial industry should be screened for convictions related to embezzlement or fraud. Criminal background checks can report information about felony and misdemeanor convictions. They can also report arrest records, pending charges, and civil judgments or collections. The most comprehensive criminal background check will include a state, county, and federal court records search. It will provide the applicant’s offense date, type, severity, disposition, and sentence, if applicable. A background check may also include civil court records such as lawsuits or bankruptcy filings, and it can also flag whether an individual is registered on a national sex offender list. Because of the potential risk, some employers incorporate standalone searches of these sources into their pre-employment screening protocols. Many states and cities have enacted “Ban the Box” laws, which prevent an employer from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until later in the hiring process. While these laws do not excuse an employer from running a criminal background check, they allow applicants to delay initial prejudice in the application process.

Education Verification

Healthcare is a field in which one error or abuse could have lifelong complications, even death. Healthcare background checks help employers minimize risk by examining education, licensing, employment history, criminal records, civil court records, drug screenings, and more. An identity check also helps to weed out applicants who may be embellishing their qualifications by verifying diploma mills and other fake credentials. In addition, an education verification search identifies whether an applicant has attended or graduated from the college or university they claim to have. It’s easy to misrepresent educational credentials in the age of diploma mills so this verification process can make or break a candidate’s chances for employment. Other healthcare screenings include a federal exclusion search, identifying candidates disqualified from receiving government healthcare funds such as Medicare or Medicaid because of their criminal records. Since most medical practices receive federal funding, this is a critical step to ensure the safety of vulnerable patients and the integrity of the entire healthcare facility. Hiring in healthcare is complex, and the industry is heavily regulated.

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