The Importance of Screening Potential Health Care Staff

Cool Mint FingerprintEvery time a patient visits your facility, they and their family members place their trust in your staff. With health care workers in short supply and high demand, it is tempting to welcome personable prospective staff members who look good on paper. Without a thorough healthcare professional screening, however, you may put your patients at risk of suffering from unforeseen injuries and expose your office to significant penalties for breaking state and federal laws.

One of the easiest ways to help reduce the risk of introducing the wrong individual to your facility – from physicians to janitorial staff – is consistently screening health care employees.

Benefits of Screening Potential Health Care Employees

Trying to screen a pool of applicants and keep your healthcare facility compliant with a limited amount of resources, such as time, can be difficult. However, by using a healthcare professional screening service, you can rest assured that you are mitigating the risks associated with theft, negligent hiring lawsuits, poor employee retention and fees associated with non-compliance. By screening health care employees before they are on the company’s payroll, you are following a best practice to help ensure one of the ultimate health care goals: Do no harm.

Benefits of screening health care employees also include:

Exposing the truth. When you require a prospective employee to provide information regarding his or her residence for the last seven years, date of birth, and Social Security number, you have a better chance of finding out more information regarding his or her criminal background. A thorough healthcare professional screening involves obtaining criminal records from all the counties an applicant has lived in, as well as searching national and state criminal databases in the event an applicant failed to list a county in which charges were filed. Bear in mind that you must get the written consent of all prospective and current employees before conducting any criminal background checks.

Verifying expertise. Up to 30 percent of job applications contain false statements. In the healthcare industry, an individual can lie about his or her criminal history, residence, level of professional training, work-related experience and licenses held. When screening health care employees, ask applicants to provide employment information for the last seven years, including employment dates, job titles, compensation and roles, and verify the information provided with the employers listed. If an individual must hold a license to practice, such as nurses or physicians, verify the validity of the license with its respective certifying agency.  It is also a good idea to validate an applicant’s claim about the education he or she received by contacting the office of academic records of the university or post-secondary technical school listed.

Minimizing danger to your staff. There are several ways for an ill-intentioned employee to take advantage of an employer, especially in a healthcare setting. By verifying an applicant’s criminal past, you can see if he or she has a history of violence, theft or drug abuse. By speaking to past employers, you may learn about reprimands an applicant received due to incidents of insubordination or issues with fellow coworkers. By screening health care employees, you can learn about issues that can pose a major risk to staff and facility.

Minimizing danger to your patients. Healthcare patients are some of the most vulnerable clients of any sector. They trust all the staff tending to their needs to keep their information private, diligently follow through with care plans and treat them with respect at all times. A healthcare professional screening can help prevent negative experiences at your facility related to confidentiality, theft of property or identity, and a patient’s dignity and safety. A breach in any of these areas can lead to lawsuits that cite negligence on your facility’s part.

Making hiring decisions faster. By screening health care employees before moving on with any formal interview process, you can immediately weed out applicants who pose a risk to your facility. Conducting the necessary employment screenings on the best candidates first can help speed up the hiring process and save the company money. While it costs money to run a healthcare professional screening, it is cheaper and less of a burden than facing hefty fees from state and federal governments – or dealing with a lawsuit.

When you run a healthcare facility, you have a moral and professional obligation to always keep the best interests of your patients and staff in mind. Making haste to hire an individual without conducting the proper screenings can result in financial devastation as well as a loss of professional integrity, which is priceless.

[ Photo by: Jack Spades, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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