If you are like many small practice owners, you groan whenever an employee quits. By now you’ve probably employed quite a few characters who have let you down. The lazy one… the crazy one… the scary one. The thought of screening someone new has you filled with dread. And with good reason too: it’s risky to hire new staff. It’s letting a stranger into your practice and trusting them right away with all of your information—and your patients’ too. Sure, the applicant’s resume provides information, but is it real? That’s where background checks can help.
Checking a candidate’s background is a vital part of the hiring process. You’re minimizing the possibility of fraud. Plus, you’re ensuring the candidate has the experience they claim to have. Unfortunately, many doctors skip background checks to save time. But this can be a costly mistake.
Background Checks to Avoid Embezzlement
In 2014, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that occupational fraud added up to almost $3.7 trillion. Verizon claims that as much as 20% of its recent data breaches are due to insider misconduct. In the healthcare industry cases of embezzlement are increasing at a staggering rate. Frost & Company, P.C., a healthcare consulting group from Houston, Texas, warns:
“It is projected during a five (5) year period of time; over eighty percent (80%) of all medical practices will experience embezzlement in one form or another. Additionally, of those committing the embezzlement, it is estimated that seventy (70%) have practiced their embezzlement skills with a previous medical practice. ”
But embezzlement is not the only risk. Employees with false credentials create unsafe conditions for the rest of your staff… not to mention your patients.
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What Background Checks Provide
Background checks get information from government agency public records. Many times they look at:
- Social Security number
- Education records
- State licensing records
- Credit records
- Criminal records
- Incarceration records
- Court records
- Sex offenders list
- Driving records
- Vehicle registration
- Property ownership
- Medical records
- Military records
- Drug test records
- Past employers
- Personal references
What Background Checks Won’t Show You
In the past, background checks got a bad rap for being too invasive. National standards for employment screening were added to protect privacy. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) , the following cannot be reported:
- Bankruptcies after ten years
- Civil suits, judgments, and arrests after seven years
- Paid tax liens after seven years
- Accounts placed for collection after seven years
- Other negative information (excluding criminal convictions) after seven years
However, since healthcare jobs involve working with children and people with disabilities, you may qualify to get more information.
How to Get a Background Check
There are generally three ways to get a background check on a prospective employee:
1. Going to your local police station.
2. Using an online service.
3. Using a full-service background check company.
If you’re only looking for a criminal background check, you can get one from your local police station. Each police department has a different process and set of requirements. They typically charge a small fee for the service and are quite accurate.
For practices with a limited budget, the online background check can be affordable. They cost about $10 to $50. You enter the name of the person you’re searching for, and all the information will be laid out on the screen. Unfortunately, they can sometimes turn up the wrong person. They don’t always include education or employment history. Plus, many of them are not FCRA-compliant, which can put you at risk of a lawsuit or fine.
Clinics and hospitals use full-service background checking companies. They are the most expensive option, but they supply the comprehensive and accurate information. They offer many services from visiting courthouses to procuring past employment and education records. They comply with FCRA laws. But of course, something as comprehensive as this comes with a heftier price tag.
Check the Office of Inspector General
Healthcare providers can also check the Office of Inspector General‘s List of Excluded Individuals. This database provides information about individuals excluded from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal health care programs. It lists all individuals convicted of Medicare or Medicaid fraud. It includes offenses related to the delivery of items or services under Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, or other State health care programs. It includes offenses such as patient abuse or neglect; felony convictions for other health care-related fraud, theft, and other financial misconduct. Finally, it includes felony convictions relating to unlawful manufacture, distribution, prescription, or dispensing of controlled substances.
Do Your Homework
The best thing you can do for your practice is to surround yourself with trustworthy staff. With all the benefits of background checking, it’s high time to start implementing it as part of your hiring process. It’ll save you money, energy, and headaches in the long run. In some cases, a thorough background check may turn out to be the most important item on your hiring checklist.
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