Christine Lagendyk | 22 April, 2021

It’s essential to your small or independently owned healthcare practice that you hire medical professionals who have impeccable credentials and can deliver the standard of care that your patients expect, while also keeping up with continually changing regulations.

Non-compliance can result in fines, lawsuits, or the loss of licenses—not just for your healthcare staff but for your business as well, so it’s critical that you hire skilled and trustworthy professionals. Background checks are the best way to ensure that your next hire has the qualifications, as well as the ethical and moral values, required in this well-regulated, high-risk industry.

In this article, we’ll explain why background checks are necessary for your healthcare practice, and which essential elements to include.

Why Are Healthcare Background Checks Important?

Making background checks an integral part of your hiring process will help protect your patients and your practice from unethical and potentially dangerous healthcare workers. 

While most healthcare professionals have a calling to help others, the opportunity to work with vulnerable patients can attract candidates with questionable intentions. Hiring such  applicants could put patients in harm’s way and leave your practice vulnerable to a lawsuit.

Negligence and medical malpractice lawsuits are on the rise. In 2019, healthcare practices paid in excess of $4.3 billion in medical malpractice payouts, a 9.23% jump from the previous year. 

In addition, fines issued by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are in the tens of millions every year. In 2014, a New York City healthcare practice was ordered to pay $387K to the Department of Health and Human Services when a staff member carelessly disclosed a patient’s HIV status, along with other protected health information, to the patient’s employer. 

Your healthcare practice may be held accountable for its employees' mistakes and misconduct. A comprehensive background check is essential for protecting your patients and your business. 

10 Elements Every Healthcare Background Check Needs

Background checks are an effective way to screen employees and reveal any red flags. This is especially critical in the healthcare industry as your patients’ safety depends on your organization hiring qualified and trustworthy employees. 

Whether you’re recruiting medical staff or administrators, ensure the background checks you use include these 10 essential elements:

1. Person Search & Address History

A person search uses the candidate’s social security number to establish their identity and confirm they are who they say they are. An address history trace provides all names and all addresses associated with that number.

2. Nationwide Criminal Background Check With Alias

A nationwide criminal background check searches over half a billion records to report crimes prosecuted in state and local courts. The search is also conducted with any aliases uncovered during the address history trace.

3. Sex Offender Background Check

A sex offender background check can identify candidates who are listed on a sex offender registry. The search can be in a single state or nationwide.

4. International Background Check

An international background check is useful for screening candidates who have lived in other countries. An international search will help determine if the candidate has any criminal records outside of the United States.

5. County Criminal Courthouse Search

County criminal courthouse searches are one of the most complete sources for criminal records since records for all felony and misdemeanor criminal cases tried in local jurisdictions are housed at the county court.

6. Education Verification

Education verification will validate a candidate’s credentials, completion date, and the official educational accrediting body.

7. Employment Verification

Employment verification will confirm employment history, dates of employment, job position and reason for leaving.

8. Drug Testing

Drug and alcohol testing for healthcare workers is not required by law but is common practice in pre-employment background checks. Screening for drugs and alcohol may flag those with substance abuse, decreasing the potential risk to patients as well as decreasing risk of negligence and malpractice.

9. Driving Record Check

Driving record checks are essential for healthcare professionals who use their own vehicle, or a company vehicle, to get from one facility to another, or to transport patients. A driving record check will identify candidates with poor driving records due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, traffic violations, or unpaid parking tickets.

10. Healthcare Compliance Search

A healthcare compliance search will report on healthcare professionals and practices that have been prohibited from participating in federally funded healthcare programs. It includes a Fraud and Abuse Control Information System (FACIS) search.

What Is FACIS and Why Does It Belong in a Healthcare Background Check?

FACIS is a database made up of records pulled from federal and state sources. The search consists of exclusions, sanctions, debarments, and disciplinary actions against healthcare professionals and practices for all license types and jurisdictions, making it a necessary addition to your pre-employment background checks.

FACIS offers 3 search levels, each level increases in scope to offer more comprehensive search options.

FACIS Level 1 Search

Level 1 includes the minimum criteria required by the Office of Inspector General Compliance Program Guidance. Searches include federal databases and records maintained by the Office of the Inspector General. They also include state-specific databases when applicable.

FACIS Level 2 Search

Level 2 combines the Level 1 search of federal agencies with information on disciplinary action from numerous agencies and one state of choice.

FACIS Level 3 Search

Level 3 combines Level 1 and 2 searches with thousands of additional data sources and records, including state data, historical data, and millions of individual records. 

With over 75,000 records added monthly, and data dating back to 1992, a Level 3 FACIS background check provides the most accurate list of individuals and companies that have been barred from federally funded healthcare programs. The Level 3 search is the optimal choice for exclusion screening of potential healthcare professionals.

Put Your Patients and Your Practice in Safe Hands

Hiring professionals with flawless backgrounds is paramount in the healthcare industry. Conducting comprehensive background checks is the most effective way of ensuring you’re hiring the best healthcare professionals for your organization. This doesn’t just keep your patients safe, it also keeps your practice and reputation intact. 

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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