Protect Your Healthcare Organization with a Strong Pre-Screening Process

Heather SinclairBusiness Insurance, Human Resources


Hiring is a complicated component of business that always opens a company to liability. Hiring an ineligible candidate doesn’t just risk fines and litigation,  it can also affect the organization’s brand, which can cause long-lasting financial damage.

In the HireRight 2013 Spotlight, 56% of healthcare organizations said background screening improves the hiring process and protects the company from liability. Not only does a qualified, eligible hire deliver good service, they also represent the brand positively. 40% of healthcare organizations believe background checking improves safety. 44% believe background checking improves regulatory compliance.

It’s the job of good managers to ensure that new hires are eligible to provide healthcare to patients. No matter how experienced a hiring manager may be, a “good feeling” is not an indication of anything. You have to do your homework, which means building and enacting a screening process.

When you consider an applicant, the first place you should look is the Office of Inspector General’s List of Excluded Individuals/Entities, which lists people and organizations that are excluded from federally funded healthcare programs.

Entities are excluded because of past Medicare fraud, patient neglect or abuse, or felony or misdemeanor convictions of healthcare-related fraud, theft, or misconduct of any kind. Any healthcare organization who hires an excluded entity won’t be reimbursed for costs and may end up paying significant monetary penalties (up to $500,000 per ineligible employee).

Next, check state and federal data sources to ensure your applicants are properly licensed and aren’t carrying medical sanctions. Unfortunately, there’s no comprehensive source for sanction data in the United States. Hiring managers would be smart to check multiple sources to reduce their risk, such as the National Practitioner Databank and the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Third, test candidates and new hires for drugs and alcohol use. This isn’t required by law, but the risk of exposure to lawsuits if a patient is injured by an impaired worker is significant. Continue testing employees routinely and randomly to deter unsafe behavior.

Finally, review your screening process at least once a year. As laws and regulations change, you’ll want to ensure your screening program adapts accordingly to identify gaps. Ensuring you have an effective process will improve the reliability of your overall hiring.

The National Business Research Institute says the number one reason organizations cut corners on pre-screening is because they’re desperate to fill positions. Slow down and investigate carefully. Have you considered potential aliases? Have you verified the applicant’s credentials, licenses and education?

Rushing the screening (and the interview process as a whole) is a terrible mistake that can leave your company open to massive liability. Always make the time to thoroughly complete your screening process (or use an agency specifically for this purpose) and check future applicants’ personal and professional references.

Heather Sinclair
Risk Management Consultant

Protect Your Healthcare Organization with a Strong Pre-Screening Process