Background Checks for Healthcare Applicants: How Important Are They?

VWB Blog 11 months ago 25

As healthcare organizations face increasing scrutiny, background checks are more important than ever. Background verification helps prevent medical professionals from defrauding patients and exposing private information, like social security numbers. An effective background check includes identity verification and national sex offender searches. It also contains gaps in employment to identify potential fraud, licensing or integrity issues.

Verify Drug Screening

Due to staff shortages, healthcare companies must continue hiring nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors and other healthcare workers. Background checks help ensure the new hire has the qualifications and experience to work in a particular job. Background checks can verify credentials, employment history and criminal history. They can also include a drug screening. A standard drug test consists of a urine sample and checks for ten illicit and commonly abused prescription drugs. A comprehensive drug screen can include many more substances and be customized to a healthcare facility’s needs. Almost all healthcare jobs involve contact with vulnerable populations, and many of these positions require access to prescription drugs. A national sex offender search can identify registered sex offenders, and identity verification searches ensure that the person who applied for the job is the same person who will be working with patients. These searches are essential in a healthcare setting where a mistake could be life-threatening.

Verify Credentials

Whether you’re hiring at a hospital, medical clinic or private practice, patients depend on the quality of your team. Thorough medical background checks guard against dishonesty and poor performance that can result in malpractice lawsuits and endanger your clients and their health. Some states require medical employers to conduct background checks for all employees working directly with patients. This standard should be followed for those who aren’t required to do so because patients deserve to trust their teams. In addition to checking criminal history, you’ll want to run a Level 2 check that looks at state and national registries of healthcare professionals who’ve received sanctions — ranging from letters of reprimand to full exclusions. You should also conduct drug screening to ensure your team is free of substance abuse issues. It is particularly important because many healthcare workers can access powerful prescription drugs. It could lead to medication errors if a team member abuses their position.

Verify Licenses

Healthcare workers have access to potent medications, and the potential for abuse is real. It’s important to verify that a candidate has the proper credentials and licenses and to check criminal history. Unlike other background checks, healthcare checks are tailored to the industry. They’re typically more thorough and evaluate metrics designed to help employers find the right team members. They also include a national criminal search that taps comprehensive databases.

In addition to a national criminal search, healthcare background checks verify educational records and employment histories. It allows them to validate applicants’ education and experience claims and confirm their professional qualifications. A quick search can also help weed out candidates who may have registered sex offenders. It is critical given that almost one million people are currently on the country’s sex offender registry. These searches are often completed using a specialized service that sends information requests directly to schools, state licensing boards, and employers.

Verify Criminal History

In the healthcare industry, all job candidates must be safe and trustworthy. Nurses, physicians, and home health aides deal with people in their most vulnerable states. For this reason, a history of theft or drug abuse should be a deal-breaker for most medical companies. Additionally, the ability to access a patient’s prescriptions is an enormous responsibility. It is why running a criminal background check should be standard for anyone applying to work in healthcare. While basic background checks are important for any applicant, healthcare background checks must be more in-depth and evaluate metrics explicitly designed to identify the right caregivers for the vulnerable patients that healthcare workers often deal with.

Additionally, verifying a candidate’s identity during the background screening is vital. It is not uncommon for people to exaggerate their education and experience on their resumes and applications. Running a detailed identity search and cross-referencing this information against official records is crucial. It is also why drug screenings are so important for healthcare candidates. Almost any illicit substance use could lead to disastrous consequences for your patients.

Verify Experience

As a highly regulated industry, healthcare has specific background verification needs. Healthcare background checks can help shield your medical center from illegitimate employees who might steal patient data, harm clients and other team members or commit any other crime. A good healthcare background check is more comprehensive than a standard one and should include credentials and criminal history verification. It should also have a search of federal and state exclusion lists, OIG lists and other relevant databases.

In addition, a healthcare background check should verify volunteer work, including the organization’s name and a contact person who can confirm it. It should also include participating in fundraising events, blood drives or community outreach initiatives. This information helps to determine if an employee has the experience to succeed in your organization. It can also indicate the care your patients are likely to receive.

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