Types of Background Checks Used by Hospitals

When hiring for your healthcare organization, it’s crucial to perform a pre-employment background check for all staff members, from unit clerks to attending physicians. These screenings not only protect yourself and your healthcare facility but also protect your providers and—most importantly—your patients.

A comprehensive background check for a hospital includes numerous screening types to ensure that your candidate is a safe and appropriate choice. These routine screenings continually ensure that your healthcare center can focus on its main priority: providing quality, compassionate care.

Elements of a hospital background check

While pre-employment background checks can include a variety of screenings dependent on your industry, hospital background checks include a larger amount of verifications and screenings to protect patient safety and health, as well as safe-keep your facility from a number of lawsuits and liabilities.

While these screening types can vary, most hospitals include the following:

Nationwide criminal history check

Nationwide criminal record searches scan federal and county records throughout the country. These searches will return “clear” or “not clear”, complete with a detailed report of any records found, including (but not limited to) the relevant dates, case type, parties involved, and case resolution. These include county and federal charges in all parts of the country.

Criminal searches will thoroughly search whether or not criminal charges made by the federal district court exist. These crimes can include fraud, embezzlement, assault, theft, and others.

When investigating your potential hire’s criminal records, a search result with no match (or potential match) can take under 24 hours. If results are returned, they’ll need to be reviewed further and can take a longer period of time.

National sex offender registry search

Sex offenders are required to register when they change addresses and keep their information current and factual (it’s a federal crime to not update their information). This means that the information searched during a national sex offender registry search is always up-to-date.

Sex offender searches are extremely important to include in a hospital background check. This type of search pulls data from all 50 states and will include name (and/or alternate names), physical characteristics, date of birth, address (and past addresses), and the location and date of the conviction, as well as the type of offense (or offenses).

This type of screening usually is returned in 24 hours or less.

Sanctions and exclusions

Healthcare sanctions occur when a hearing takes place due to alleged violations of administrative rule, civil law, or a criminal offense. This can result in termination, license revocation, suspension, and more. Often, this is detrimental to an institution, particularly financially. Exclusions result from a provider giving unsafe or inadequate care to a patient or community and are enforced by Medicaid or the OIG (Office of the Inspector General).

A screening for either of these occurrences is crucial to the security of your hospital and the safety of your patients. Sanctions and exclusions records are updated monthly, and monthly screenings are recommended for the most current results. Searches should take less than 24 hours.

Drug screening

Pre-employment drug tests usually screen for particular drugs but can screen for other specific drugs if requested. The included drugs are typically:

  • Opiates (opium, codeine, morphine, heroin)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Cocaine (crack)
  • THC (marijuana, cannabinoids)
  • Methamphetamines (speed, ecstasy, meth)

These results can be returned rather quickly, and, depending on the sample (blood, urine, hair, or saliva), can detect drugs in the blood from five to 90 days after use. Results typically take 24-48 hours.

License and education verification

Education and license screenings are crucial to verify that your staff is able to perform their job correctly and safely, as well as ensure that your healthcare facility avoids any lawsuits or liabilities with an under-qualified practitioner.

During these screenings, we’ll connect with the educational institutions or licensing facilities and confirm the validity of their credentials. While the turnaround time varies based on the educational facilities’ own timelines, we expect to receive your results in two to three days.

Employment history verification

Similar to license and education, employment history verification includes contact with former employers to verify that the candidate being screened has indeed worked for them, and in a position and time frame that aligns with the candidate’s claims. Since records need to be confirmed as opposed to a quick phone call, turnaround time is usually two to three days, for reasons much like education verification.

Credit check

While not necessarily needed, credit checks can ensure you’re hiring a responsible candidate. To showcase due diligence, protect patients and other staff members, and reduce risk of liability, most hospitals do choose to run a credit check. We’ll reach out to credit reporting institutions and confirm your candidate’s history. This type of screening can be very quick, under 24 hours.

Remember, compliance is crucial

It’s important to remember that, during a background check, compliance must be closely followed when screening a potential candidate or current employee—otherwise, you may face heavy fines or lawsuits.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives those being screened protective rights regarding the treatment and transfer of their personal information. Candidates must be provided documents requesting background check permission, and must also be given a good reason if something in a hospital screening allows their application to be rejected.

How often should hospital employees be screened?

While each of these types of screenings varies in how often records are updated, keeping your staff regularly screened ensures patient security and safety. This can greatly depend on your institution, human resources department, and your number of employees, but regular screenings for providers are essential to confirm their eligibility.

Once your employee or applicant passes their screening, it becomes much easier to decide whether or not to hire a candidate. Having verification that your applicant is trustworthy and responsible will empower you to make the right choice about your applicant, and continued screenings over time help to ensure that your patients and institution are safe.

To learn more about why pre-employment screenings are important for your hospital, contact us today.

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