Why a Background Check is Critical For Hiring Health Professionals

Background Check is Critical For Hiring Health Professionals

In some industries, background checks are not optional—they’re mandatory. It’s true for healthcare professionals whose relationships with their patients hinge on trust. A criminal record check can reveal past convictions related to assault, theft, fraud, drug offenses and abuse of elder or patient populations. Other critical searches include employment verification and a federal exclusion search, which accesses the U.S. government’s list of people banned from receiving Medicare funds.

Education/Employment Verification

Healthcare workers work in delicate and critical situations where lives are at stake. They must be reliable, trustworthy and honest. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Candidates often lie about their education and employment history, which is a serious problem in an industry where a single mistake can have catastrophic consequences. A background check for healthcare workers should include verification of an applicant’s claimed academic credentials. It should cover all institutions they have attended, their attendance dates and any degrees they have received. It can help identify candidates who may have lied about their qualifications and prevent your organization from hiring someone the federal government has sanctioned for working in the healthcare industry.

A healthcare background check should also be thorough and include professional license verification. It reveals whether an applicant has a valid medical license and can be used to determine if they have been disciplined for malpractice or misconduct. While some checks don’t make sense for every type of healthcare job — like a motor vehicle record check for ambulance drivers — they should still be performed for roles where they can access patients’ personal information or financial resources. Other healthcare background checks that can be useful include criminal record checks and drug screenings. These are particularly important for medical scribes, pharmacy technicians and different roles with access to prescription drugs.

Drug Screening

In the healthcare industry, drug screening is a must. Workers in this field are responsible for saving and preserving lives, treating vulnerable people with sensitive information, and controlling how potentially lethal pharmaceutical drugs are distributed. These people must have a clear mind to perform their jobs effectively. Drug screening helps identify whether an applicant has a history of substance abuse, which can impair judgment and lead to patient harm. In addition, many healthcare professionals have access to powerful prescription medications that can be abused or misused. Performing drug screenings helps employers protect their patients, colleagues, and the organization by ensuring that these employees are not under the influence while on the job. Verifying an employee’s professional credentials and qualifications during the background check process is also important. It can include confirming education, licenses, and certifications and determining if the individual has the specialized training necessary to perform their job duties. Another critical component of healthcare background checks is the medical review officer (MRO). During this stage, an MRO meets with every applicant who tests positive to discuss their drug use and evaluate their employment eligibility. The MRO can explain any legitimate medicinal use of certain drugs and ensure that an employer is not discriminating against an otherwise qualified candidate based on their medically prescribed drug usage.

Federal Exclusion Search

Medical personnel are helping people, so a background check that finds evidence of violent crime, theft, fraud, elder or patient abuse, drug-related offenses or registered sex offenders is especially important. This type of investigation may include a social security trace to confirm an applicant’s or employee’s claimed employment history and professional licenses. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations entrust their patients to the care of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and many other employees who must be trusted, competent and ethical. These background checks give hospitals and other healthcare companies the assurance they need to know their new hires will meet these high standards. A federal exclusion search (a List of Excluded Individuals and Entities) is crucial to a comprehensive healthcare background check. A nationwide exclusion search also includes a review of OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) and SDNs (Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons) lists to prevent the hiring of individuals who are banned from working in the United States for security reasons or because they’re involved with terrorist groups or other dangerous criminal networks. This search is necessary for any healthcare company contracting with the federal government.

Criminal Record Search

No matter what industry you are in, criminal background searches should always be part of the screening process. However, they take on more importance when it comes to medical professionals. One mistake can have disastrous consequences for your patients in the healthcare industry. Whether a nurse or doctor talking about a patient’s HIV/AIDS status within earshot of other patients or an administrator mishandling sensitive financial information, it only takes a single incident to lose customer trust and revenue. That’s why a national sex offender search should also be part of the background check for any healthcare employee. These searches pull data from every state and U.S. territory to identify registered sex offenders and anyone convicted of or pleaded guilty to a sex crime.

Additionally, some checks may only make sense for some roles but are important for specific functions in the healthcare industry. For example, an ambulance driver should undergo a motor vehicle record check and a credit history check that sheds light on financial responsibility. It helps keep your hiring processes consistent, compliant, and legally sound.

Gabriel Montgomery

Gabriel Montgomery

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