5 Reasons Why Healthcare Background Checks Are Essential

Healthcare workers often handle sensitive patient information, which can put them at risk for data breaches. Performing checks like a national criminal record search and sex offender registry check can help protect patients.

Prevent Fraud and Abuse

Healthcare is a high-stakes industry that requires a lot of skill, experience, discretion, and ethical decision-making. That’s why hospitals and other medical organizations are often concerned about their employees committing fraud or abusing patients. A background check can help ensure that a potential healthcare employee is trustworthy. Healthcare background checks are typically more comprehensive than other types of background checks and evaluate metrics explicitly designed to determine whether a potential employee is a good fit for the industry.

Healthcare background checks include professional verifications (verifying education, work history, and certifications), criminal history checks, civil court histories, drug screenings, sex offender registry checks, and more. These checks also often look for aliases to ensure a potential hire isn’t using an alternate name that could hide criminal records. This type of screening helps healthcare companies identify potential fraud or abuse risks, preventing them from hiring people who can’t be trusted to do the job well. This lowers training costs by limiting the number of replacement hires needing training. It also protects healthcare companies from lawsuits.

Protect Patients

Despite the urgent need to onboard new healthcare employees, it’s impossible to cut corners when vetting candidates. If hospitals or medical practices rush the process, they run the risk of hiring someone with a serious criminal history who may pose a threat to patients. The result could be costly fines, malpractice lawsuits, and negatively impacting the organization’s reputation.

In addition to criminal checks, healthcare employers need to perform professional license verifications and education/employment verification searches. These searches help identify if an applicant has falsely claimed to hold the credentials they claim on their resume. Another essential search that should be included in healthcare background checks is a national sex offender search, which pulls information from state, territory, and District of Columbia records to look for registered sexual offenders. Since many healthcare workers come into close contact with patients, these searches are vital for patient safety.

Prevent Medical Malpractice

In addition to criminal records and sex offender searches, healthcare background checks should include education verification. This ensures that candidates for roles like hospital administrators have the degrees they claim on their resumes. It also catches fraudsters who try to pass off fake degrees as valid credentials.

This is particularly important for healthcare employees with regular contact with children and vulnerable adults. A national sex offender search should be included in every healthcare background check. It pulls information from the sex offender registries in all 50 states and U.S. territories to identify registered sex offenders. A federal exclusion search is also vital for healthcare employers because it identifies candidates sanctioned by the government and barred from receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds. This helps healthcare facilities avoid the financial consequences of negligent hiring or credentialing and protects patients from potential harm. 

Prevent Disciplinary Actions

Whether it’s an unscrupulous healthcare employee stealing medicine or a hospital worker using someone else’s credentials to access private patient records, disciplinary actions can cause huge damage. Healthcare background checks help prevent this by ensuring your workforce is qualified, experienced, and trustworthy. In some industries, conducting a background check is optional, but in others, it’s a requirement for employer-employee relationships to be successful. This is especially true in the healthcare field. Unless you want to lose your reputation or see patients injured, you must screen all employees, including visiting nurses, per diem nurses, contractors, and volunteers. Fortunately, a professional screening company with experience in the industry can help you meet local, state, and federal standards, as well as regulatory guidelines from CMS and The Joint Commission. It can also verify professional licensing, education, employment history, and references. The right screening partner will check for aliases to avoid missing red flags. This makes a difference because it’s easy for people to exaggerate or invent their qualifications and work histories. This can lead to medical malpractice and serious consequences for your business.

Prevent Neglect

Comprehensive healthcare background checks are essential in an industry where a single mistake or ethical overstep can have devastating consequences. These searches explore candidates’ criminal history, educational credentials and professional licensure, work history, driving record, sex offender status, abuse and neglect registry, credit check, drug screening, and other relevant details. Because of the power imbalance inherent in doctor-patient relationships, sex offender checks are necessary for medical professionals. In addition, theft, embezzlement, and fraud are common in healthcare settings, so thorough criminal and financial records checks are essential. Home healthcare agencies also screen for past worker’s compensation claims, which can be a red flag for abuse.

One type of healthcare background check unique to the industry is a sanctions check. Sanctions are exclusions that prevent an individual from participating in federal healthcare programs, most notably Medicare and Medicaid. A thorough sanction check helps avoid hiring a healthcare employee who may have been barred from working in the field by the Office of Inspector General. This helps prevent a hospital or healthcare entity from being penalized for violating federal laws.

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