How Often Are Hospitals Required to Run Background Checks on Employees
Background checks are a fundamental practice for hospitals to ensure safety amongst patients and staff alike. A highly regulated industry like healthcare is urged to apply more stringent policies due to the fact that lives are at risk every day and patient-sensitive information can be easily accessed.
Today, remarkably, there is no legal requirement for hospitals to run background checks on their employees. In order to protect staff and patients and to demonstrate due diligence and reduce the risk of liability and exposure to negligent hiring claims, most hospitals do elect to run them. Although there are state laws enacted to require background checks for specific healthcare positions, hospitals typically choose to run them consistently over their entire staff.
Although background checks are highly recommended at time of hire, conducting additional screenings at time of reappointment for physicians or on an ongoing basis for current employees is equally or maybe even more important. Performing background checks at time of hire only shows a snapshot of that moment in time. Vu Do, PreCheck’s Vice President of Compliance, recommends employers run full background checks at time of hire and as well as a criminal recheck on an annual basis. As a best practice, it’s also highly recommended to run monthly sanction screenings, like PreCheck’s SanctionCheck, on your hospital’s physicians and staff to maintain confidence in your practitioners and staff year-round. “Many healthcare employers see the benefit of knowing when their employees are arrested and convicted of crime while employed, rather than finding out through the media or via a lawsuit,” explains Vu Do.
Hospitals are open to scrutiny and vulnerable to risks when they’re not performing ongoing background checks on their employees. Workers aren’t necessarily candid to employers about their jail time or convictions. Employers may learn—which a number of healthcare organizations have—through the evening news or a reporter when they are the least prepared that an employee was charged while under their employ. In situations like these, organizations do have the right to react responsibly; for example, issuing a probation period for the employee, even for felonies. Nonetheless, their organization’s image is jeopardized and due diligence is questioned when the media asks, “How can a hospital NOT know that their employee was diverting drugs from them and was arrested six months ago while working for ABC Hospital for possession of a controlled substance?”
What do hospitals check for in a background check?
Although hospitals’ preferences vary, components often include, but are not limited to:
- Criminal history (county, state, etc.)
- Sanction and exclusion screening
- Sex offender registry searches
- License verification
- Verification of previous and current employment
- Education verification
- Credit checks—when applicable
As a best practice, it’s recommended that healthcare organizations perform continual, routine background checks on their employees. Being proactive and staying ahead not only protects your organization’s reputation, but it also ensures you’re taking the necessary precau tionary steps to safeguard your patients and staff. Too much is at risk to ignore the liabilities of oversight.
How does your healthcare organization remain compliant and ensure your employees are in good standing? Contact us today to learn how PreCheck can help you implement a comprehensive background screening program tailored for healthcare.