The healthcare industry is facing a massive change as baby boomers retire in large numbers. This will create a shortage in this highly skilled sector.
Contingent workers include freelancers, independent contractors and consultants who perform professional services for healthcare organizations on a contract basis.
Whether you are hiring doctors, nurses, therapists or other healthcare workers, thorough medical background checks are an important part of the process. In addition to verifying a candidate’s identity and criminal records, a healthcare background check also includes national sex offender searches verification of education and employment and professional licenses.
Medical employees often work with vulnerable populations, including children and elderly patients, so it is important to ensure that your staff is free of any history of sexual assault or abuse.
A national sex offender search will pull data from all states and U.S. territories to identify any registered sex offenders. Similarly, a federal exclusion search will help you avoid risky hires by checking a database that lists people barred from working with federally funded programs like Medicare or Medicaid.
Healthcare background checks also often include drug screening, which is especially important for mental health care.
Psychiatrists and other mental health workers can have access to powerful prescription medications, so they must pass a drug test before being hired. The same goes for any healthcare employee handling hazardous materials or patient files.
A drug screening will help you identify potential problems before they become an issue and reduce liability risk. For these reasons, it is critical to partner with a reliable and experienced background screening company when hiring in the healthcare industry.
Drug screenings are an important part of any medical background check, but they take on a particularly critical role in healthcare hiring.
The reason is that healthcare employees have access to powerful prescription medications and may put themselves and their patients in danger if they use drugs on the job. Drug screenings reveal whether or not an applicant has a history of drug abuse and helps organizations make better decisions.
Occupational studies indicate that drug abuse costs employers an average of $80 billion annually, including loss of productivity, absenteeism, injuries, theft, workers’ compensation claims and legal liability.
Pre-employment and routine drug screenings help reduce those costs and promote a safe workplace for employees and patients. Urine tests are the most common but can be misleading because the results take several days.
Blood and saliva tests are more accurate but have a short detection period (minutes to hours). In addition, many strategies posted on social media and other websites can teach motivated individuals how to beat urine drug screenings by diluting the sample or using a special oxidizing agent.
The decision about which type of test to choose and when to use it is one of the most important decisions employers must make when operating a medical background check program.
It’s also important to remember that HIPAA regulations protect mental health records, so mental illness diagnoses won’t appear on a background check report unless they lead to a criminal charge or conviction.
In a field where patients are most vulnerable, any healthcare worker must be free of criminal convictions that could impact patient safety. For example, a nurse or doctor with a history of drug abuse may have an easier time stealing prescription pharmaceuticals from their employer to sell or use for their addiction.
A background check that evaluates criminal records and a criminal conviction history is the only way to identify these patterns and protect your patients. In addition, healthcare employees can access sensitive patient information like social security numbers and bank account details.
For this reason, a background check that checks for sex offenses, theft, fraud and other serious charges is an important part of any medical screening process. Healthcare background checks also typically include a search of state and county court records since these offenses are more severe.
Additionally, a comprehensive healthcare background check often requires a federal investigation. Some crimes aren’t recorded at the local or state level but violate federal law, such as murder or terrorism-related offenses.
Finally, a healthcare background check should also be followed by continuous criminal monitoring that scans 24/7 for new arrest data so it can report those issues immediately to the healthcare company rather than waiting until an annual rescreen is due.
This helps ensure that a background check remains an important part of the healthcare hiring process.
Healthcare workers must possess unique skills and characteristics, including medical knowledge, patient care, discretion, judgment, and ethical decision-making.
Those who work in this high-stakes field should not have criminal records that could put patients’ lives at risk or prevent them from doing their jobs effectively. This is why thorough background checks are crucial to the healthcare hiring process. In addition to standard criminal history checks, healthcare employers should include additional searches specific to the role.
For example, a nurse or other healthcare worker who has a history of sex offenses can present a direct threat to their coworkers and patients. This search can help prevent those people from being hired. A health inclusion list search is also crucial to a healthcare background check.
The federal government maintains these lists to identify healthcare professionals sanctioned by the Office of the Inspector General or other relevant authorities.
Such searches can prevent healthcare organizations from unknowingly hiring approved practitioners, which can create serious problems for billing, patient treatment, and even government reimbursement processes.
Finally, because healthcare professionals often have rigorous educational requirements and licensing and certification standards, healthcare organizations should run education verification searches that reach out to schools and universities to verify the validity of an applicant’s diploma.
It’s not uncommon for medical workers to use aliases, too, so running a search against multiple names can be a helpful way to uncover hidden issues.