July 1st, 2024 | Sterling

5 More Myths About Healthcare Background Screening

Healthcare background checks must be thorough due to licensing and compliance regulations, which can make this process complex. In this previous background check myths blog, we debunked 5 common healthcare background screening myths that can help organizations stay compliant, mitigate risk, and most importantly protect their employees and their patients.

We’re back with five more myths on healthcare background screening that’ll continue to help your organization maintain compliance.

Myth #1. Doing an SSN trace is enough to confirm a new hire’s identity.

Running an SSN trace is a great starting point when conducting a background check on healthcare candidates, but, in fact, SSN traces don’t verify that someone is who they say they are. Social Security Number (SSN) Traces are not a validation of a candidate’s identity; they are used solely to identify locations to search based on the candidate’s address history and possible alternate names.

It’s a common misconception that identity is verified during background checks when, in reality, background checks are often dependent on candidates providing accurate data. Unfortunately, accidental (or intentional) errors can go undetected and lead to incorrect background check results, delaying not only the hiring process, but exposing the chance of potentially hiring someone who can pose a risk to the organization.

To verify identity and reduce data inaccuracies, companies need to ensure identity verification is part of their screening program. Sterling’s identity verification

solution leverages advanced technology to help confirm candidate identity prior to

See how six Sterling clients uncovered an average of 45% more criminal records after implementing identity verification before a background check.

Myth #2. You can use a standard urine 10-panel drug test to detect commonly-abused pain medications.

A typical opiate screening only reports the presence of codeine and morphine. An expanded opiate panel, however, can detect other commonly-abused pain medications including Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone and Oxymorphone. If detecting these drugs is important, it’s recommended that you use a 10 panel plus expanded opiates drug test.

Sterling’s drug and health screening services offer a robust portfolio of over 1,300 drug testing and clinical services along with healthcare industry compliance expertise. With our recent merger with Vault Workforce Screening Solutions, we offer a network of 17,000 clinics and a flexible service model that further enhances Sterling’s existing drug and health services.

Although hospitals and other health systems typically have their own pre-employment drug & health screening program, there are often challenges on getting candidates to their appointments and getting test results delivered in a timely manner.

This blog covers how Sterling’s Clinical Concierge services can healthcare organizations get candidates to Day One faster.

Myth #3. Failing to verify a healthcare practitioner’s license status incurs minimal financial risk.

Not only can the financial risk be significant, but the longer a license issue goes undetected, the larger the financial penalty. Organizations have had to pay settlements as high as several million for unknowingly employing unlicensed practitioners. When looking at the OIG Civil Monetary Penalty site, there are numerous settlements listed from tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars imposed on organizations ranging from skilled nursing facilities to dental practices.

Compliance issues can also result from improperly-conducted license verifications. Sterling uses automation enhancements combined with specialist outreach to deliver a better, faster verification experience. Sterling’s verification checks verify licenses only at the primary source in order to meet compliance requirements. Additionally, we also provide license monitoring services to proactively monitor licenses before they expire.

Myth #4. Performing a monthly sanction check is the best way to minimize regulatory exposure and reputational risk.

If a provider on staff participates in health care programs — including those submitting Medicare and Medicaid claims — and that provider becomes sanctioned, then organizations can accumulate steep fines daily. While a monthly sanctions check is better than no monitoring program at all, checking only once a month can expose organizations to legal, reputational, and financial risk.

Sterling automates ongoing proactive sanction checks at both the federal and state levels, including OIG, GSA, SAM, state sanctions, and other excluded provider lists. Monitoring board actions further reduces risk exposure by limiting the time lag between board decisions and publication of disciplinary actions.

Myth #5. States with ban-the-box laws prohibit asking candidates if they’ve been convicted of a crime during the background check.

Generally, ban-the-box laws (aka “Fair Chance” or “Fair Opportunity” laws) determine if employers are allowed to ask questions related to a candidate’s criminal history on the initial application. However, these laws do allow for inquiry later, typically during the interview or until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

Healthcare organizations need to make sure they’re aware of their city, county, and state ban-the-box laws before asking a candidate if they’ve been convicted of a crime. This background check compliance infographic covers the must-know steps to help manage background check regulatory compliance.

Debunking Healthcare Background Check Myths

Healthcare organizations don’t have to bear the weight of managing these background screening requirements on their own. By working with a trusted provider offering healthcare-specific solutions and deep market expertise, employers can feel confident in making informed hiring decisions while staying compliant.

Learn more about Sterling’s healthcare background check solutions.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.