Re-Screening Current Employees to Protect Patient Care in the Long-Term

Re-Screening Current Employees to Protect Patient Care in the Long-Term
Senior Director of Marketing

We recently discussed how often hospitals should run background checks on employees, but what about healthcare organizations in general? Even for non-hospital care organizations, patient care is still a concern. In fact, in its most recent work plan, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) stated it would continue to focus on the safety of long-term healthcare facilities in 2014 and beyond. With patient safety at risk across the healthcare industry, it’s important to ensure that your healthcare staff is in good standing beyond the date of hire.

The following are a few reasons to consider re-screening healthcare employees on an ongoing basis.

Some States Require Home Healthcare Agencies to Conduct Ongoing Employee Screening

As recently as 2013, we’ve seen legislators increasingly recognize the importance of conducting ongoing screening for healthcare workers. On January 1, 2013, for example, the Ohio Department of Health significantly changed the background check requirements for home health agencies. Among other requirements that went into effect as part of these rules, the State of Ohio requires home healthcare agencies to conduct background checks at least once every five years on current employees. While this is only specific to home healthcare agencies, it’s a perfect example of the government recognizing the importance of ongoing screening.

Having Excluded Individuals On Staff Can Cost You Civil Monetary Penalties

If your healthcare organization receives federal healthcare dollars or participates in Medicare or Medicaid programs, you cannot have excluded individuals on staff. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) updates their List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) every month, which means that each month there could be new names on the list. In 2013, the OIG issued a Special Advisory Bulletin in which it recommends conducting monthly exclusion screening as a best practice in the healthcare industry. Failing to conduct due diligence in exclusion screening can leave your healthcare organization at risk for incurring Civil Monetary Penalties (CMP’s) and treble damages.

Uncover Bad Employees Before the Media Does

In a highly sensitive industry such as healthcare where patient’s lives are at stake, a negative story in the media can significantly damage your organization’s reputation. For example, take the case of gynecologist Dr. Nikita A. Levy, a doctor in the Johns Hopkins Community Medicine system from 1988 through 2013. Despite the long history at the organization, Dr. Levy surreptitiously recorded patients over the course of several years, according to a recent report in The Baltimore Sun. If anything, Dr. Levy’s case demonstrates that healthcare employers shouldn’t wait years before investigating further when it comes to current employees and staff.

Annual Criminal Re-Checks—A Cost-Effective Risk Mitigation Tool

As a best practice for healthcare organizations, our Vice President of Compliance, Vu Do, recommends conducting annual criminal re-checks in order to minimize the level of risk for both patients and staff. At PreCheck, we work with a few healthcare systems that commit to this screening frequency in order to protect both their patients and reputation. What’s more, annual criminal re-checks are cost-effective because employers can only focus on the components of the background check that would change. For example, where a pre-employment background check might include education verification, a re-check would not since this information would not change over time. Criminal background checks, however, represent a snapshot in time—which is why an annual screening frequency is highly recommended.

When it comes to safeguarding patients, ongoing background screening is a highly recommended best practice in healthcare. Legislators recognize its importance and it can also be cost-effective if done right.

Are you reviewing your healthcare organization’s employment background screening initiatives? Contact us today to learn how PreCheck can help you establish an ongoing screening program.

PreCheck Background Screening Resource Kit