New Jersey Considering Law Requiring International Criminal Background Checks for Doctors Who Lived Abroad

By Michael Klazema on 4/20/2015

Along with teachers, doctors are among the most thoroughly background-checked professionals in the United States. However, in New Jersey state legislators aren't sure that existing background check policies are enough to make sure that physicians are safe and trustworthy. In fact, a piece of legislation originally introduced in the New Jersey State Senate, titled S-1533—would require additional background checks for doctors who have lived abroad.

Specifically, the law would mandate special international background checks for any doctors who have previously lived in foreign country. The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners would be responsible for the checks, which would apply both to new doctors and to longtime physicians looking to renew their licenses. Supposedly, the checks would have to determine if doctors had criminal records in any other country before they could be completed.

On the one hand, the legislation makes perfect sense. It's good practice to run background checks in several states if a person has resided in more than one state. That's why at we often recommend using address histories to maximize the accuracy of a pre-employment background screening. Considering these practices, it's not at all crazy to look into an employee's criminal background in foreign countries if that person has lived abroad. It makes so much sense, in fact, that the New Jersey State Senate passed the bill with a vote of 38-1. The legislation is now awaiting further consideration from the General Assembly.

Not everyone is happy with the idea of S-1533, though. The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners has decided to oppose the bill, for reasons mostly pertaining to practicality. Specifically, the medical board is worried that the measure would create confusion with background checks for doctors, would add hefty costs to the board's background check expenses, could create background check backlogs, and would be downright unfair to medical professionals. After all, no other profession requires its workers to undergo international background checks.

However, the State Senator who is sponsoring the bill said the fact that no other professions utilize international checks isn't an excuse to not implement them for doctors. In fact, the Senator said she would consider drafting similar bills for other professions, to close a loophole that considers international criminal charges an "out of sight, out of mind" consideration.

The bill was inspired by the story of a New Jersey anesthesiologist who worked as a surgeon in the state without proper training, and who was licensed there in spite of a manslaughter charge in the United Kingdom. The manslaughter charge came through in 2001, after the doctor in question sedated a patient to have tooth pulled. An improper dosage killed the patient, and the doctor lost his license in the United Kingdom. When he came to the United States, he was able to become licensed medical practitioner in New Jersey. And since the state doesn't check for international charges, he was able to get away with not disclosing his criminal offense on his licensing application.


Industry News

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.