A background check for healthcare workers is one of the most important and influential ways to ensure patient safety. Positions such as nursing, home health aid, and physician are often staffed with people who have direct access to patients, so they need to be trustworthy and reliable.
It can be especially true when hiring for positions that deal with children and elders. Criminal offenses for theft or fraud are red flags, especially if the candidate contacts these individuals.
Drug screenings are a part of many background checks. They can help you avoid risky hires and build a better workforce when done correctly.
Healthcare workers are particularly susceptible to substance abuse and addiction. They often face long shifts, are on their feet all day, and may not have much time to relax or consume alcohol.
In some safety-sensitive positions, like those of physicians and nurses, mandatory random drug testing is standard. This approach is used to detect impairment that interferes with work and can cause a workplace incident or death.
Healthcare employers have many drugs to test for, including amphetamines; cannabinoids (THC); cocaine; opiates; phencyclidine (PCP), or angel dust. They also have the option to use a more expansive 10-panel drug screen to identify the overuse of prescription drugs such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methaqualone, methadone, and propoxyphene.
While the standard 5-panel drug screen is typically a good choice for most healthcare companies, there are some circumstances where a more extensive panel of tests may be needed to protect your patients and workers. Some healthcare employers, for example, require an expanded opiate drug test to determine painkiller abuse from hydrocodone, oxycontin, and other synthetic opiates.
Federal Exclusion Searches
A federal exclusion search is a vital component of the background check for healthcare workers. This search identifies candidates who may be working in healthcare with a criminal record that would prevent them from receiving federal funds.
These searches are performed by a qualified consumer reporting agency (CRA) and access thousands of additional data sources that may be critical to finding fraudulent, abusive, or risky providers. The search will also check for state Medicaid exclusion lists and the US government’s System for Award Management (SAM) database to ensure a broad scope of coverage.
The Office of Inspector General maintains a list of individuals and entities excluded from federal healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Violation of these sanctions can result in significant civil monetary penalties (CMP), reputational damage, and even jail time.
It would be best to vet your current employees and those you are considering hiring against the OIG’s list of excluded individuals and entities. The list is updated monthly, and healthcare employers are responsible for screening their prospective employees against it.
These screenings are part of the overall healthcare compliance program and can help reduce legal exposure for the entire organization. It is also crucial for healthcare organizations to make sure that any vendors or others they may work with or purchase from have not been excluded and are in good standing.
Education and Employment Verification
When hiring healthcare workers, you want to ensure they have the skills and qualifications to provide top-quality care. It means conducting comprehensive background checks on each candidate before making an offer.
A candidate with a history of dishonesty, poor performance, or inappropriate behavior can threaten your patients and healthcare facilities. Professional background screening criminal history reports and reference checks will reveal past problems or if a candidate has lied about their experience.
Education verification ensures that candidates have the degrees and credentials they say they have on their resumes. It also helps you prevent liability.
Many applicants misrepresent their educational histories and degrees on their applications and resumes, putting your organization at risk for lawsuits or negligent hiring claims.
Employers can conduct education verification to see all the schools an applicant attended, their attendance dates, and whether they received diplomas, certificates, or degrees. It can help you avoid hiring someone who inflated their degree credentials and saves your business from legal action.
Employment verification is another critical background check component for your healthcare workers. It enables you to verify the dates of previous employment, position, and salary information. It is essential in the medical field, as doctors, nurses, and other health professionals often have access to sensitive patient information.
Reference checks are a standard part of the hiring process for healthcare workers. They allow employers to verify a candidate’s job history and education, and they can provide more significant insights into a candidate’s ability and honesty.
They also allow employers to speak to the individuals supervising a prospective employee. It is essential to determine whether or not the person is competent and honest since many healthcare employers trust their employees to care for patients.
A criminal record check is standard across industries but is especially relevant for a healthcare professional. These individuals will work with and around vulnerable patients, so they must be safe.
If a healthcare background check comes back with any concerning charges, it could be enough to disqualify an applicant. It is why it’s so important to conduct a thorough assessment and be sure that candidates are honest in their application.
The national sex offender registry pulls records from each state, territory, and district to find any convictions or guilty pleas for sex crimes. These records are essential for healthcare staff in close contact with patients because sexual assault severely threatens people’s lives.
Healthcare background checks also look for any other sanctions imposed on potential hires. These can include letters of reprimand or full exclusions, and they’re a crucial way to ensure that candidates are not risky hires.