November 14, 2023

5 Key Reasons Why Healthcare Background Checks Are Critical


Healthcare organizations deal with the lives of the most vulnerable — and a single error or abuse can have devastating consequences. That’s why criminal record checks are crucial for the industry. National illegal searches scour comprehensive databases to find records of an applicant’s past activities. Education and employment verification can identify omissions or lies on resumes and ensure a candidate is qualified.


Protects Patients

Whether the healthcare facility is a doctor’s office, hospital, or other medical entity, background checks ensure patients’ safety. Considering the trust between patients and medical professionals, any skeletons in the closet can lead to mistrust and possibly even legal liability for the facility. A thorough background check investigation includes more than just criminal history searches. Healthcare background checks should also include education and employment verification, sex offender registry checks, and Personal Identifier Traces to verify the identity of applicants. Healthcare background checks should also have a federal exclusion search, which demonstrates the candidate against a list of people and entities prohibited from receiving federal funds. This is critical for hospitals and other healthcare facilities that accept Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Having a sanctioned person working in your hospital can result in the federal government imposing fines on your organization, losing accreditation, or clawing CMS funding. This is one of the reasons why federal regulations and Joint Commission standards require healthcare organizations to conduct background checks on individuals with patient access.

Protects Employees

Healthcare background checks are more thorough than many other kinds of background checks, and they evaluate metrics specifically designed to help find the right caregivers. They can include employment verification, education verification, a national sex offender search, social security number validation or identity confirmation, motor vehicle reports, and drug screenings. These searches also help you spot people who have lied on their resumes or applications, which can be an issue in healthcare. A pharmacy driver with a DUI, for example, could put your patients at risk of receiving substandard care, and a home health aide with a history of theft is someone other than someone you want to work with vulnerable clients. In addition, a background check can reveal a history of substance abuse, which is another primary concern for medical employers. Taking a proactive approach to vetting can also protect your organization from being fined for negligent hiring or credentialing. Just as you wouldn’t hire a lawyer with a criminal record, you should avoid hiring healthcare employees with a past that raises red flags. A background check is the best way to do that.

Prevents Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is one of the most serious concerns in the healthcare field. It takes a special kind of person to work in this industry, which involves dealing with people’s life-or-death health issues. Healthcare professionals must stay current on the latest research, information, and guidelines for their fields. They must also have excellent communication skills to discuss procedures with their patients and document everything they do.

Malpractice claims often arise from misdiagnoses, which can lead to severe injuries. This is why doctors must communicate clearly with their patients and give them second opinions. If a doctor continues to misdiagnose the same condition for an extended period, that could be grounds for a malpractice claim. Performing background checks on healthcare workers can help prevent these kinds of mistakes. A drug screening can reveal any underlying substance abuse problems that would make it harder for a doctor to perform their duties ethically and competently. A federal exclusion search can also identify candidates banned from working with federal programs like Medicare.

Prevents Fraud

Healthcare workers are trusted with patients’ personal information, including their social security numbers and bank account info. Moreover, healthcare professionals often have direct access to powerful prescription medications that can be abused or misused. An effective credentialing and background check process can help prevent healthcare-related fraud by ensuring the hiring people have the right experience and qualifications.

A thorough background check can detect many types of fraud and other issues that could disqualify a candidate or employee from working in the healthcare industry, from an office assistant with a history of theft to a doctor who falsified their educational credentials. A verification service can reveal that a healthcare worker attended all the colleges or schools listed on their resume, as well as omitting institutions and degrees. A background check can also identify healthcare employees sanctioned by federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid. This helps employers avoid the penalties that come with employing authorized individuals. Continuous criminal monitoring can also keep healthcare companies up-to-date on the arrests of current employees as they happen.

Prevents Discrimination

A single negligent hiring lawsuit can cost a healthcare organization millions of dollars. And even if the organization isn’t sued, lousy publicity could damage the brand and reputation among patients and community leaders.

Every healthcare employee must be thoroughly vetted, from doctors and nurses to custodians and aides. By simply investigating each candidate’s criminal and civil court records, professional license history, drug screenings, education, work experience, employment verification, personal references, and more, healthcare background checks can minimize the chance that an employee will commit an act of misconduct that could harm a patient or embarrass the organization. Additionally, because healthcare employees frequently have access to prescription drugs, many positions are conditioned on passing a pre-employment drug test. If an applicant has a substance abuse problem, the company may decide to decline their application.

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