Hospitals Can't Afford to Cut Corners With Healthcare Background Checks

Healthcare organizations, from hospitals to nursing homes, must uphold high standards in many areas. Patients in the care of these facilities are often at their most vulnerable, and many organizations contain controlled substances. Preventing bad actors from entering these spaces and committing crimes is just as crucial as selecting employees with the right skills and training. That level of importance makes a thorough healthcare background check so important.

Unfortunately, not every organization conforms to best practices or even the healthcare background check requirements stipulated by law in some places. Even those that routinely use their process can run into problems without a periodic audit of its effectiveness. For example, could your healthcare organization be rushing through vetting?

At a time when staffing shortages continue to impact the healthcare industry, finding people to fill critical roles has an added urgency. Thorough background checks for healthcare employees can take time due to the number of steps involved. It can be tempting to skip some of these steps to save time—but the consequences of making the wrong decision in hiring can be substantial.

Consider the case of a hospital in Oregon that hired a new chief operating officer—only to discover, thanks to a public tip-off, that the man had a checkered past. The man had repeatedly committed fraud at multiple hospitals and healthcare organizations in different states. Using a falsified SSN, faked credentials and phony references, he conned his way into high-level jobs and embezzled tens of thousands of dollars.

The Oregon hospital discovered the issue in time to prevent damage, but they still lost all the time and money spent on the hiring process. Though the hospital maintain they were thorough in their background checks, the man often fielded calls to references himself. It's not hard to imagine someone rushing to complete a new hire overlooking murky warning signs.

The impacts of a poor hiring choice can extend beyond financial losses. Although less common, there are times when hiring the wrong people could lead directly to adverse effects on patients. Imagine a nurse who falsifies her credentials or hides a past of patient abuse—the risks for organizations here are extensive.

Finding the right fit for the role should be your primary goal. Compromising the quality of care isn't worth filling open positions more quickly. Using criminal background checks for healthcare workers combined with a thorough approach to resume verification is the best way to mitigate those risks. A comprehensive and consistent practice will lead you to candidates with the skills your teams need. 

Ultimately, that translates into a better capacity to care for the sick and save lives. You'll need to know how to build a rigorous process to achieve that end. As the case in Oregon demonstrates, some people can be very tricky, going so far as to fabricate SSNs or set up fake phone numbers to provide employment references. 

Carefully consider your approach to the healthcare background check today. Do you have the right tools and techniques to vet applicants with the necessary rigor? Now is the time to look at powering up your process to handle this challenging employment environment. With industry knowledge and experience, the right background check provider can help your hospital manage risks and improve hiring.

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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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