I think we all can agree that requesting a background check on professionals who visit patient care areas is a good idea. But, when you request a background check, have you ever stopped to think about exactly what that means? What checks are done? How are those checks done? What searches are included? That fact is, not all background checks are equal, so let’s spend a few minutes exploring some of the best practices.

One of the most important factors of a background check is compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA was passed in 1970 and has been revised over time to encompass all facets of the background screening process. Many websites offering “instant” criminal background checks and other public record information are not compliant with the FCRA and, as such, cannot be used for the majority of business-related background checks.

In this day of “instant information” and the prevalence the internet has in our daily lives, it seems that everyone is looking for the fastest and cheapest manner of doing things, including background checks. Some vendors try to lure people into using their services by claiming their background checks are “nationwide” and conducted “in-house.” While that may give a sense of security, it boils down to two things:

1) Nationwide Databases: No two criminal databases are alike, which clearly allows for some discrepancies. These are proprietary databases compiled of criminal records purchased from various entities who sell their data (courthouses, state repositories, etc). There is no law or regulation that states what should be reported, how often or even how accurate the information should be. Furthermore, any criminal records found in a database search must be verified at the source of the information. This is done by sending a researcher directly to the source of the information, such as a courthouse, to confirm the record found is accurate. This isn’t just a “best practice.” It’s a requirement of the FCRA and is a step often overlooked by many background screening vendors.

2) In-house Searches: If a company is claiming they conduct their background checks “in-house,” it’s probably a good indicator that they are relying solely on database information and not going straight to the source. Not only should the accuracy of the background check be called into question, if the vendor isn’t going the extra mile to match the applicant with the reported identifiers, how are you to know a reported criminal offense belongs to the proper person? The process of background screening is important to requestors to help protect themselves and their businesses, but it is also imperative that the information being furnished is accurate and confirmed as to not have a negative impact on the subject of the check.

A background check should include a Nationwide Criminal Database as a supplement to the rest of the background check. This may uncover crimes committed in areas that the subject didn’t report or was not a resident of. Next, a search of the Nationwide Sex Offender Registry is also imperative. While the majority of crimes and convictions resulting in sex offender registration could be found in other components of a background check, if the offender moves to another jurisdiction and fails to re-register, that will be indicated in this search. Finally, a county criminal search, conducted by hand, for felonies and misdemeanors directly at the courthouses should be obligatory. Investigating the possibility of criminal records in this manner is considered best practice and the most accurate method available.

So, for a background check you can have confidence in, be sure the one you request contains these elements, at a minimum. You’ll find that you’ll be reinforcing a commitment to patient safety on behalf of your organization, and you will give those professionals entering your facility a higher level of confidence in the safety of the environment that they are visiting.Receive the IntelliCentrics Blog in your inbox every time we publish a new blog post.  Click here to subscribe to our blog today!

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