Federal Background Screening Laws for Healthcare Workers

Across the U.S., 36 states have laws requiring health care workers to undergo national security and criminal background checks. The remaining 14 do not require it, but do encourage hospitals and facilities to screen applicants prior to employment at minimum.

Screening laws are, for the most part, required in the U.S. for those in occupations with access to medical patients. Some though consider it a highly controversial practice from a privacy standpoint.

Even though not all states require a background investigation, it is becoming a widespread to conduct screening checks for workers in healthcare or nursing home facilities.

New federal healthcare laws now require background screening in all 50 states

Section 6201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) sets the requirements to conduct background checks on a statewide basis, but this isn’t the first federal laws for background checks.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been supportive of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint checks as part of the criminal background check for employment (based upon Public Law 92-544).

A pilot program to require checks for employees with direct access to a patients’ care can be found in Section 307 of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

Indeed there is a lot of legislation that provides background and support the conducting of a criminal history record check to find out any illegal activities in someone’s past.

Background checks even play a crucial role in determining if an applicant can be trusted. In fact, healthcare screening is purposely designed to serve this purpose.

Also, periodic criminal checks occur and tend to be a good idea for those in long-term positions where they have contact with patients. They can be used as an ongoing process when doubts arise regarding staff members. Some health agencies in fact conduct a thorough screening of current employees every two years to deter fraud and protect the safety of patients.

Those seeking employment at a hospital, clinic or some other facility are likely to be investigated, either in the pre-screening process, via a background check and fingerprinting. Background screening services like Rapback scour law enforcement databases and send results back to the employer.

It is also worth noting that any time a criminal background check is carried out, a record will be sent to the state’s Department of Public Health as well as the agency who requested the check.

Employees should not worry unless they are hiding something or have a criminal report. The screening process is necessary to rule out applicants with a criminal history who may put the safety of coworkers, patients, and the facility at risk.

Employers in healthcare in need of secure, efficient and accurate background checks can consider Innovative BCS. Not only can the system initiate background checks, it can also provide periodic updates through the Protect Product Suite.

When used in conjunction, all of these tools can help ensure doctors, nurses and staff at your facility are not only in compliance with federal law, but can be trusted to not harm patients and respect their privacy.