Are health care industry background checks falling short of protecting patients?

The health care industry has been conducting background checks for physicians, nurses and others that have patient care responsibilities. What is unique about the industry is how many of these are done. Frequently the employee is asked to obtain a copy of their own records and submit them for licensing and they are told which source, usually a state criminal background check, to obtain the records from. Employers then asked for a copy of them and use that in the hiring decision. No other industry makes a practice of leaving the records in the control of the employee and in many cases, the state criminal record searches conducted are limited and incomplete. Outside of healthcare, a release is signed and the employer then conducts the searches by a professional employment screening company.

The net result is patients and co-workers can end up with their records and even care in the hands of criminals. In November, a Michigan couple managed to gain employment at two Detroit area hospitals and allegedly stole the records of 1,000 patients. They used or intended to use the personal information of those victims to file fraudulent tax returns in their names.

Health care industry background checks