Due to Inconsistent Board Licensing Procedures, Some Doctors Have Criminal Pasts

By Michael Klazema on 4/6/2012

Although some medical boards do require potential doctors to pass background checks before being licensed, these boards make up only 46 of the total 70 medical boards. Doctors with criminal pasts need only to apply for licensure through boards that do not have this requirement in order to get their license. This is disturbing hospitals and patients alike.  An investigation of non-background checked doctors turned up crimes on the records of current doctors in one of five searches in North Carolina alone.  These crimes included, among other things, fraud, battery, and even sexual assault.   In the 1990s, one doctor who had never been subjected to a criminal background check had fatally poisoned about 50 of his coworkers in Illinois.  Sidney Wolfe, a doctor with the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, reminded reporters that “doctors are not immune to criminal behavior,” nor should they be immune to having their history checked before practicing medicine.

There are currently 14 states in which doctors with criminal histories can get their license without a background check, but many are calling for legislation to change this.  Boards that have received pressure from hospitals, state legislatures, and the public, have started changing their licensing requirements in recent years.  Because of this, the practice is spreading.  In 2001 only 7 states required fingerprinting of doctors, and medical schools are getting on the bandwagon too by requiring their medical students to go through extensive background checks.  This could act as a safety net for states that aren’t yet setting higher standards.

Because their positions are so sensitive in terms of access to people and drugs, it’s likely it won’t be long before all states and all medical boards make background checks mandatory.  In order to do this, they will need to partner with organizations like in order to tap into national databases like US OneSEARCH and US AliasSEARCH.  Hospitals may want to run their own checks in the case of fraudulent licenses by using Professional License Verification and Education Verification.   When it comes to the safety of patients, doctors should be the last thing the public needs to worry about.  If patients know that every doctor has undergone a background check and maybe even ongoing criminal monitoring, they may feel more comfortable to place trust in their doctors.

About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services.  Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.