The Role of Background Checks in Maintaining Quality Healthcare Standards

Healthcare
Healthcare

Healthcare background checks should be conducted for every employee. Conducting these searches during the hiring process and regularly helps ensure that nothing falls between the cracks.

While most people associate background checks with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, they should be conducted on all employees in the healthcare industry. This includes administrative workers, custodians, and others exposed to patients daily.

Verification of Credentials and Licensing

When it comes to healthcare background checks, many steps must be taken to ensure safety and compliance. From primary source verification to sex offender registry searches, specialized checks are crucial for vetting healthcare professionals.

Accreditation standards and third-party payers often require healthcare organizations to conduct thorough vetting processes. These checks may include verifying professional licensure, educational degrees, and transcripts, confirming specialized certifications from reputable organizations, and work history verification.

The results of these checks can reveal information that would disqualify a candidate from being considered for a specific role. For example, an individual with a history of drug abuse in a mental health position would pose a significant risk to patients. These issues can be discovered through thorough state, federal, and international database searches.

In addition to a comprehensive background check, sex offender registries should be searched, especially for positions involving patient transportation or who have access to prescription drugs. This check is critical to maintaining a safe workplace. Using an experienced company like ScoutLogic to perform these specialized searches can save valuable time and money in the long run through quick turnaround times, detailed reports, and monitoring alerts. This allows healthcare organizations to focus on what matters most: keeping their patients safe.

Sanction Checks

In addition to criminal record checks, verification of credentials and licensing, education and employment verifications, sex offender searches, and drug screenings, healthcare organizations may also conduct sanctions checks. Sanctions checks search federal employment-ban lists to ensure that hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare entities do not employ anyone who is barred from working in the industry as a result of past issues such as drug thefts, patient abuse, or violations of the law related to the handling of confidential medical information.

As a matter of federal policy, healthcare companies must perform sanction checks before hiring new employees and ensure the existing workforce is not on a federal employment-ban list. This prevents the company from becoming liable for any damages resulting from an employee engaging in unethical or illegal activities in healthcare and other areas in which the Department of Health and Human Services has strict guidelines.

Performing this type of search is particularly important for large healthcare companies that often hire temporary and traveling employees or contractors, as there can be a lag between the time that an individual is banned from practicing in a given state and the point at which their name appears on a federal employment-ban list. Additionally, combining a federal OIG sanction check with Social Security number verification and other crosschecks to prevent misidentification can help protect healthcare organizations.

Criminal History Checks

A criminal history check searches public records for information regarding arrests, court cases, convictions, and incarcerations. This screening helps ensure that healthcare workers do not have a history of mistrustworthy, dishonest, or violent behaviors that could harm patients. This is especially important for healthcare workers with direct patient contact and access to their health records.

In addition to a general background check, some healthcare practices also use education and employment verification checks to verify an applicant’s credentials and determine whether or not their previous employment was terminated due to issues like workplace negligence. A federal exclusion search also enables employers to avoid hiring healthcare workers with records that would prevent them from working with certain federal programs like Medicare.

While some background checks are overkill for the healthcare industry, they are essential to maintaining high standards. By implementing comprehensive policies and utilizing services, healthcare organizations can improve the quality of their employees and reduce risks that may put patients at risk. For example, healthcare workers with a history of theft crimes and other violations can expose their employers to costly lawsuits, fines, and fees. Background checks, including FACIS searches, sanctions searches, and drug screenings, can help protect against these costly issues and maintain consumers’ trust.

Drug Screenings

Drug testing is a necessary component of any healthcare workplace. This includes hospitals and doctors’ offices, where nurses and other medical professionals play key roles in patient care. Drug tests help maintain a safe work environment and ensure patients receive the highest level of care possible.

Many medical professions are subject to strict licensing requirements that include drug screenings. Failing to comply can result in a suspension or revocation of their license, effectively ending their career. Therefore, hospitals must conduct consistent background checks on all new employees to verify that they can legally work within the industry.

Various drug tests are available, including urinalysis, saliva and hair follicle, and breathalyzers. These can be conducted during pre-employment screenings, based on reasonable suspicion, and as part of a random screening program. Some types of drugs that are commonly tested for include marijuana, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and PCP. In addition, a wide range of prescription medications may also be tested for.

Follow-up drug testing programs can be tailored to specific individuals in conjunction with their recovery advisors, but most rely on periodic or random unannounced testing of urine, hair, blood, or saliva specimens. This helps to identify current substance abuse, which can be addressed and treated through employee assistance programs or other rehabilitation programs.

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