Delays in Healthcare Background Checks Highlight Troublesome Red Tape

Criminal background checks for healthcare workers are critical in the hiring process. Because such workers need to care for vulnerable individuals in circumstances where wrongdoing is probable, it makes sense to explore that person's background carefully. Determining suitability is a many-layered process, and criminal records are just one part of that effort. However, the red flags raised by such vetting can help organizations do their best to avoid potential pitfalls.

In many states, there are strict healthcare background check requirements specifically because of the considerable potential to cause harm in such a role. Everyone from hospitals to in-home care aids is subject to these requirements—and in one state, those requirements have turned into delay-causing red tape.

In Minnesota, like in many other places around the country, there is a serious shortage of professional health care aides and PCAs, or Personal Care Assistants. Such workers typically spend many hours a day with residents at their homes, sometimes on a 24-hour live-in basis. Those conditions make a thorough background check very important—but for nearly a thousand individuals, that check has become a barrier to employment.

Delays Cause Headaches for Many

The issue: about a thousand background checks remain "stuck" in the system, caught in a bottleneck created by the need for additional screening and verification. Although the state claims it clears 85% of all checks within a few days, some stuck in limbo have waited for months. Despite clearing all the other requirements, the state's slow progress has left many with job offers in hand but no actual job to attend to.

The state says the issue stems from the need to be thorough. The delays may stem from the need to investigate further the circumstances of a criminal conviction or verify someone's identity to match records. Problems stemming from interfacing with systems in other states have also caused delays. Unfortunately, there is no solution within easy reach, and the delays will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

What can employers learn about these delays in background checks for healthcare organizations?

Creating a Resilient Hiring Process

Every business wants to complete hiring quickly. When you do, you gain new skilled workers and spend less time on an expensive and tedious process. Workers are often eager to make it through and start earning wages. Unfortunately, red tape can cause delays or even introduce them deliberately. From complex ban the box laws that specifically define how employers should evaluate candidates to industry-specific requirements such as those impacting healthcare background checks, such red tape causes headaches for employers and employees alike.

Starting the hiring process early—or maintaining recruitment as an ongoing effort—helps ensure that delays don't mean the company must go on without the right workers indefinitely. It's important to be upfront with candidates about how processes out of your control might impact the time it takes to hire them. 

While being resilient in the face of inefficiency and bureaucracy can be difficult, solutions are available. Build more time into the process, begin earlier, and keep the lines of communication open. When you must depend on state agencies to complete a hiring cycle, you must prepare for every contingency.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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