Why Perform a Background Check on the Healthcare Industry?

In the healthcare field, mistakes and abuse can have devastating consequences. A doctor with a criminal record could sexually assault patients, and employees with access to powerful prescription drugs might steal them to sell on the black market or feed their addictions. The best way to minimize these risks is through a thorough background check for healthcare applicants. Learn why this is so important and how to implement an effective screening process.

Verify Credentials

Healthcare professionals work closely with patients and have access to sensitive data. Trusting your staff is crucial so that background checks can spot any red flags that could jeopardize patient safety. Healthcare employers typically run several types of background checks. The type of check required will depend on the position for which an applicant is applying. Physicians, for example, require a more comprehensive inspection than nurses or home health aides. Education verification is also a key component of healthcare background checks. It verifies that the candidate received a post-secondary degree from the school or university listed on their resume or application. It also reveals whether or not they completed the degree program. Applicants often lie on their resumes to hide employment gaps or criminal records, so requesting education verification can help healthcare organizations verify the truth.

National criminal searches scour expansive databases to determine if an applicant has any criminal records in the past. A standard lookback time is seven years, so information from a candidate’s past dating back ten or more years could come to light during the process. It is also vital for healthcare organizations to run a national sex offender search. This type of search helps them limit the number of candidates who come into contact with children and vulnerable adults.

Prevent Fraud

The healthcare industry is sensitive, and people entrust medical professionals with their personal information. A healthcare background check is critical to ensuring the people who hire nurses, doctors, and home health aides do so with high integrity. Theft, drug-related offenses, and other crimes can disqualify candidates. Additionally, the people who work in healthcare tend to be working with patients in life-or-death situations. Therefore, they must show they have a high level of competence and honesty. Misrepresenting credentials, including a professional license, is a disqualifying offense and must be identified during the background check process. Finally, the federal government maintains a database of people banned from using Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. A national exclusion search (an OFAC search) checks applicants against this list to determine if they are prohibited from working in the healthcare industry. Because healthcare is so regulated, using a background check service with the right expertise is essential.

Protect Patients

Healthcare workers are often entrusted with patients’ personal information and possessions. In addition, a physician or nurse can prescribe life-altering medications. For this reason, it’s essential that the healthcare industry only hires people who will treat their patients fairly and ethically. Background checks provide the peace of mind that hiring managers must make confident decisions about new employees’ qualifications. Criminal history checks are a cornerstone of most healthcare background screenings. However, several other checks can be run to validate an applicant’s credentials and protect patients. For example, a drug screen reveals any substance abuse issues that can disqualify someone from working in the field. It’s also important to verify an applicant’s employment and education. Many healthcare jobs require a post-secondary degree or at least some technical training and experience. Checking on this can help prevent applicants from exaggerating their qualifications or hiding negative information. A sex offender search is another essential part of any healthcare background check. It’s true for home health aides and other workers caring for vulnerable people. Finding out that an applicant has a criminal record related to child abuse, elder abuse, identity theft, or other similar crimes can make it impossible to trust them with patient care or personal belongings.

Ensure Ethical Conduct

The medical field demands a high level of trust between clients and employees. In a recent Gallup poll, doctors and nurses were rated the most trustworthy professions. A healthcare background check can help to preserve this trust by ensuring that the people you hire are ethical and upstanding. Whether in a hospital, specialty clinic or private practice medical office, your healthcare employees have access to sensitive information and powerful prescription drugs. That means you need to ensure they are not prone to drug abuse or theft. Fortunately, drug screenings are an essential part of most healthcare background checks.

A background check can also uncover mistruths about educational qualifications or past employment. It can be especially damaging if the applicant is a doctor or nurse. A simple error by a doctor or nurse can have devastating consequences for patients and even cause death in extreme cases. A professional screening company can help you run full-scope background checks on your healthcare applicants, including criminal records, civil court files, education and employment verifications, drug tests, licensure status, and more. They can also advise you on the legal requirements for your state and industry. Typically, employers want to conduct background checks on candidates that go back at least seven years. However, some states require a more extended lookback period.

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