Medical professionals must be thoroughly vetted whether working in a hospital or a private practice medical office. Background checks reveal a candidate’s criminal history, professional license status, and more.
Healthcare employers often conduct background checks that include national criminal searches and a search of the federal sex offender registry. These searches are critical for the safety of patients.
Whether they work as nurses, doctors, or home health aides, medical employees can access sensitive information like patients’ social security numbers and financial records, vulnerable individuals, potent prescription drugs, and valuable possessions such as jewelry. Because of this, they must be trustworthy and honest. If a criminal record shows otherwise, that’s an instant turn-off for most employers.
Many industries require background checks for hiring, which are crucial in healthcare. A mistake by a doctor or nurse can have lifelong consequences for patients.
Therefore, healthcare employers often screen candidates to the highest level possible. This can include a complete criminal history check, driving record searches, educational credentials verification, validation of professional licensure, sex offender registries, credit checks, and more. The most common increment of time for medical employers to run a background check is seven years, though some may choose to go further. This all depends on state and local laws regulating what kind of criminal information can be reported by CRAs or legally considered by employers in hiring decisions.
Healthcare is a high-stakes industry that requires much skill, experience, judgment, discretion, and ethical decision-making. Hospitals and other medical employers need the assurance that their workers can be trusted to care for patients competently and with integrity, which is why a comprehensive background check is essential.
Among other things, healthcare background checks can reveal an applicant’s credit history, as well as their level of debt and financial responsibility. Employers often run credit checks as part of a complete background check package, especially for roles that require significant access to finances or sensitive information.
The types of background checks that healthcare employers run will vary slightly depending on the role. For example, a job-specific check that looks into an applicant’s motor vehicle records might be relevant for an ambulance driver but would not be helpful in a medical doctor or nurse position. Healthcare background check requirements can also include a search for sanctions (exclusions) against specific individuals or entities that prevent them from participating in government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The Office of Inspector General typically conducts this type of search, a standard component of monthly exclusion screening.
A criminal background check isn’t the only thing healthcare organizations must consider when hiring workers. Drug screenings are also critical. Healthcare employees often have access to powerful prescription drugs, and a drug offense could jeopardize patient safety or expose the organization to fraud.
Because of this, hospitals typically condition offers of employment on passing a pre-employment drug test. The most common drug screen involves a urinalysis. This tests for evidence of a wide range of substances, including marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines/methamphetamines, cocaine, and opioids. Many employers also test for tetanus and other vaccine-prescription drugs.
In addition, most hospitals include a sanctions check in their drug screenings. Sanctions are exclusions placed on specific individuals and entities (such as hospitals) by the Office of the Inspector General. Those on this list are prohibited from receiving reimbursements from federal healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
The current standard drug screening system in healthcare has been shown not to impact patient safety or save money positively. It should be reevaluated so that it can better achieve these goals. It is having clearly defined goals and a consistent, uniform process for vetting all candidates.
Healthcare is a high-stakes industry where the lives of patients are at stake. This demands skill, experience, judgment, discretion, and ethical decision-making, for which medical professionals invest extensive time in schooling.
Because healthcare employees are entrusted with patient information and often work with controlled substances, background checks can help ensure they’re not a threat to their patients. Checks for criminal convictions of violent crimes, theft, fraud, elder or patient abuse, and drug offenses can reveal potential problems before an incident occurs.
Employment history verifications are a standard part of most background checks, but healthcare organizations also regularly conduct education and professional license verification searches. These quickly confirm candidates’ educational credentials, and they identify omissions or lies on resumes or applications. It’s not uncommon for job applicants to use aliases, and running a check on each alternative name can uncover well-hidden red flags. Alias checks typically include a Social Security number search that digs up previous addresses and maiden names. These verifications are essential in healthcare, where the risk of false identity is a genuine concern.
Sex Offender Registry
A criminal conviction is a stain on an individual’s character, but if the crime was sex-related, it can also permanently mark their employment status and career. This is why some businesses, particularly those that work with children or older adults, will run a sex offender search as part of their background checks.
While it is not required in all states, the FBI’s criminal history database often includes information about an offender’s status on a state sex offender registry. This will tell employers whether the person is registered as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 offender, the registration date, and other important information.
It’s essential for companies that hire employees with direct access to the public or vulnerable populations, such as elderly and disabled persons, to run a sex offender search in addition to other criminal records searches. However, when relying on this type of search result, it is critical to comply with fair hiring and nondiscriminatory laws. If you aren’t careful, a misstep could leave your business susceptible to costly and brand-damaging lawsuits.