What You Need to Know About Healthcare Background Screenings
Securing employment in any industry can be difficult; however, the healthcare industry is often more challenging due to candidate competition, competitive pay, and a wide range of benefits to choose from.
While healthcare is one of the fastest-growing sectors – a career in this industry can be incredibly rewarding and lucrative – however, the doctors, nurses, ambulatory staff, and the organizations they work under face more regulation and oversight than other regulated industries. The risks taken by facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and the like are more significant and make it crucial to implement a broad range of background screening tools.
To retain safe and productive staffing, employers must be very selective when adding new staff. Depending upon the position, the new staff member could potentially be in direct contact with vulnerable patients, including the infirm, elderly, or pediatric population. Depending on the filled position, the staff may have access to controlled pharmaceuticals, private medical, and even financial information. A comprehensive investigation and screening analysis are vital to ensure that whichever candidate is considered they have the proper vetting.
For these reasons, healthcare employers must conduct background screenings. A facility cannot take chances when selecting a candidate. A failure to do their due diligence during the hiring process could have severe consequences. Reviewing county, state, and national records are just the beginning of what is needed. In-depth analysis of the sex offender registry, SSA Death Index, education and employment verification, sanctions, and license verifications are necessary.
What could potentially happen without the proper screening programs for healthcare facilities?
Employee Error and the Consequences
A single error or lapse of judgment on the healthcare provider’s behalf could have dire consequences. It could even directly result in the patient’s worsening health or death. And because mistakes do happen, there are avenues for legal recourse that the patient or their family can pursue when errors occur. Over $4 billion was paid to plaintiffs in 2018 due to medical malpractice, with the average payment being around $348,065.
You cannot prevent every accident from happening, but preventing mistakes is crucial to any healthcare organization’s clinical reputation and financial well-being. The best way to mitigate avoidable accidents is to thoroughly screen the provider’s or nurse’s credentials, work history, references, and even past sanctions, if applicable.
Healthcare Facility Crimes
Another consequence of hiring candidates without a complete vetting process is that it opens up the organization to the risk of crime. While healthcare workers are intended to be trusted individuals, there are still reports of corruption in healthcare facilities. Some of the common types of crime encountered in healthcare organizations include:
- Fraud: Including Medicaid/Medicare fraud, Social Security & Insurance fraud, and Billing Fraud
- False Medical Claims
- Diversion of Prescription Medications
- Medically Unnecessary Treatment
- Improper Coding
- Receiving Kickbacks or Improper Benefits
- Patient Abuse: Including physical and sexual abuse
- Theft of Medical Supplies & Equipment
The severity of these crimes can range from moderate loss of income (as in employee supply theft) to severe (such as when sexual or physical abuse of patients occurs). The risk of these types of crimes is one of the largest reasons healthcare employers should take their time and conduct in-depth background screenings of all potential candidates. The risk is too significant for organizations to hire someone who could potentially take advantage of their position.
How can you prevent these types of scenarios from playing out in your organization?
While background screenings can filter out certain candidates that are not fit for patient care, healthcare organizations cannot rely on these alone to mitigate their risk. Most healthcare organizations conduct thorough background screenings on all new hires, including those who may not have direct contact with patients (although the complexity and level of thoroughness often increase for those with direct patient contact).
This is why utilizing a healthcare background screening service that can optimize your hiring process, will provide detailed and reliable in-depth background screening services, and can deliver profound savings to the organization. Gapping the connection between the background checks, testing, credentialing, sanction screening, reference tracking, and state and federal boards is the key to reducing costs and achieving your organization’s hiring goals.
Hire and retain a better workforce by employing expanded background screening services with a trusted partner. Mitigating the facilities risk, ensuring compliance, and streamlining the hiring process with background screening tools are crucial for a successful HR department or hiring program.