Doctors, nurses, and paramedics all work with vulnerable individuals every day. Typically, these professionals must undergo rigorous screenings and background checks to ensure the safety of their patients. However, every state handles this process differently, and the fractured nature of the system can sometimes allow things to slip through the cracks—with unfortunate consequences. A recent case in the Florida panhandle highlights both the importance of in-depth vetting procedures and some of the potential shortcomings of established vetting procedures in the region.
Paramedic Robert Major was arrested near the end of April 2019 on molestation charges when elderly patients under his care alleged that he groped them. Following his arrest, an investigation revealed that Major had previously worked as a paramedic in Michigan—where his license was suspended less than three months before his hiring in Florida after allegations of similar conduct. Having secured licenses in other states before his Michigan suspension, Major then moved to Alabama to work and arrived in Florida with fresh references.
During his hiring, Major did not disclose that he had ever lived or worked in Michigan. A background check supplied to the hospital through Florida's Department of Law Enforcement did not raise any red flags. While the incident in Michigan was referred to both the state and the police, no arrests were made. Nationwide, background checks typically do not report arrests not tied to a conviction.
Florida officials could not disclose whether the state knew that Major's license in Michigan was suspended. A warrant was issued for Major's arrest in Michigan; while a criminal background check will not necessarily reveal a warrant, courthouse record checks such as those offered by backgroundchecks.com will return active warrants.
Medical professionals who commit crimes or lose their license in one state often find ways to continue practicing, often by holding licenses in multiple states at once. Highly localized or limited background check procedures can miss important changes that could otherwise prompt an employer to halt the hiring process to take a closer look. Major’s failure to disclose his professional history in Michigan allowed him to avoid raising red flags with state officials in Florida.
Major now faces extradition to Michigan on top of the charges levied against him in Florida. Complex though the facts of the case may be, this incident highlights the disconnect between state systems and the extra precautions that such networks require to contend with a challenging verification landscape. For medical facilities such as hospitals, thorough procedures designed to account for potential discrepancies in an applicant's answers are essential.
backgroundchecks.com provides useful tools to support this vetting category, including multi-jurisdictional criminal history reports and specialized background checks for metropolitan areas, which may contribute to a lower chance of missing critical information. With robust procedures in place, safe hiring practices are easier for medical networks to implement and maintain.