Healthcare Employee Background Screening Best Practices

By Accutrace, Inc.

It’s important that background screening companies follow established best practices which ensures that candidates are treated fairly.  According to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, these companies:

  • Protect the rights of the consumers or potential new hires
  • Promote safe work environments
  • Help employers comply with state and federal screening requirements
  • Help employers make informed decisions about their new hires
  • Provide employers with a method to mitigate the risk of having an unsafe workplace

Professional background screening companies comply with the rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Elements of a Good Background Screening Package for Medical Professionals

More and more, companies are turning to professional screening companies to do their background checks for them.  This frees up a company’s internal HR people to begin their preparations to on board new people.  It also allows companies to bring new hires in more quickly since professional screening companies are well versed and highly trained in performing the tasks associated with background screening. 

Anyone working in the healthcare field generally has a professional license in their field of expertise.  The purpose of a background screening check is to confirm that the person an organization wants to hire is the person representing themselves as honest and trustworthy, hasn’t committed fraud or a crime, and has the education and licenses permitting them to work in the healthcare field in their area of specialty. 

Elements of a Good Screening Package

When hiring licensed medical professionals, a company can decide what type and how many services they wish to order from a professional screening company based on the laws of their state and their internal company policies.

Checks that constitute a good core screening employment package for the medical profession.

  • Address and SSN Trace
  • Nationwide Criminal Database Search
  • 7 Year County Criminal Search
  • Nationwide Sex Offender (this includes the State Sex Offender screening)
  • Sanctions Complete
  • FACIS III – [includes OIG and SAM]
  • Verify Education
  • Verify Employment
  • Reference Check
  • Professional License Check

What is FACIS III?

FACIS III is a search to determine if the candidate has any disciplinary action against them for abuse or fraud concerning Medicare and Medicaid.  Accutrace does the FACIS III search because it combines the searches from FACIS 1 and 2 and is the most comprehensive, highest quality search.  This search generates information from licensing and certification agencies in all 50 states.  It checks the government databases to identify those who are prohibited from working in industries where they have been sanctioned.  This is important to HR professionals in the health care field because medical professionals are working with insurance, Medicare and Medicaid on a daily basis. You want candidates that do not have any sanctions against them to work in your organization.

In addition, the Office of the Inspector General maintains a “List of Excluded Individuals/Entities” (LEIE) who are prohibited from participating in Medicare, Medicaid and all other federal health care programs.

You can learn more about this search by visiting the Office of the Inspector General website to view the list of frequently asked questions.

In addition to the services listed above, a company might want to add additional screening tests to the list.  At Accutrace, it’s easy to customize your package to meet your needs and add any service to the list:

When Can Your Company Run a Background Check? 

First, you as the HR professional has to make an offer to your candidate before you run a background check on your candidate.  Usually, offers are made contingent upon the background check.  Then your candidate must agree in writing that you can proceed with their background screening and the give you their social security number (SSN).  While you may obtain some information verbally, you need to provide them with information on how you will conduct their background check.

Keep in mind that states are now “banning the box,” meaning that it is illegal to ask on your job application if the candidate has a previous criminal history.  Once the candidate agrees and signs your authorization and disclosure form, you will have to run a nationwide criminal database search to determine if they have a record or are “clean.”

What Happens If An Applicant Receives a Negative Hit on their Record? 

When a screening returns a negative hit on your candidate’s record, it’s called an Adverse Action.  You are required to disclose to the candidate the results so they may take action if they disagree with the results.

The first step the background screening vendor does is to inform their client.  The client will review the results and they may or may not move forward with that candidate.  Let’s look at an example.

A candidate has applied for a position in accounting at a major hospital and a credit check reveals that they have been late in making payments to their creditors. Since the candidate is in accounting and may have access to patients financial information, the hospital decides not to move forward with that candidate.

The client will contact the background screening company and let them know that they have rejected the candidate.  The background screening company must follow the FCRA rules for an Adverse Action.

Here is the compliance process for sending Adverse Action letters. 

The first letter sent to the candidate is a “Pre-Adverse Action” letter. The packet that you send to the candidate includes:

The candidate has five days to respond to the Adverse Action letter to dispute its findings and provide corrected information.  If they fail to respond, then a second packet goes out with the Adverse Action letter.  It includes:

  • The Adverse Action letter with a statement that the screening company did not make the decision to take the unfavorable action
  • A notice that the candidate has the right to dispute the accuracy of the information contained in the report
  • A copy of the consumer report that was received with the negative notification
  • A copy of the FCRA Consumer Rights document

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