What You Need to Know About Conducting Comprehensive Medical Background Checks

Unlike other types of background checks, medical background checks are more thorough. They evaluate metrics specific to the healthcare industry, such as education verification and professional license searches.

Medical background checks include a federal exclusion search, identifying healthcare workers prohibited from receiving Medicare and other government health programs. This prevents your company from getting hit with expensive malpractice lawsuits.


Credentialing is the process that healthcare organizations undergo to verify the qualifications and licenses of medical staff. This includes determining whether they possess the right credentials for specific work, like operating rooms or radiology functions. Credentialing can also be used to determine how many surgical privileges a physician has and to ensure they meet state or national guidelines for patient safety. During this process, healthcare facilities check with the agency that grants licenses and certificates (like a state licensing board) to ensure that a new hire’s medical credentials are valid.

The credentialing process can take a long time, especially for new physicians who may have to wait until their medical school credentials are verified. Only accurate or complete information can ensure the process is completed, so submitting the most up-to-date information is essential.

Once a healthcare facility has credentialed a new physician, they must repeat the process every three years or more often, depending on their insurance company or Medicare contract. This process involves a review of the physician’s background checks, primary source verification, and privileges to ensure they are up-to-date on all relevant information.

Drug Screening

The medical industry is rife with potential abuses and ethical overreaches. From doctors who could sexually assault patients to nurses who steal prescription drugs to satiate their addictions, these types of misdeeds can have grave consequences for patients. That’s why dozens of states require healthcare employers to conduct background checks on employees; even those outside those jurisdictions should consider them. These checks look at education, licensing, criminal and civil court records, drug screenings, and more to reduce the likelihood of such mistakes and lapses in judgment.

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A professional license verification check is also an important part of any comprehensive background investigation because it confirms that your applicants hold the proper credentials for their roles. This helps to ensure that you’re only hiring qualified, trained healthcare professionals who can perform their duties safely and effectively. A drug screening check is a simple process that looks for certain drugs in a person’s body. It can include tests for heroin, cocaine, meth, and marijuana, as well as more common pharmaceuticals like Adderall, penicillin, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. Some tests may also detect the presence of various metabolites or synthetic versions of these drugs. These tests can be administered orally, in urine or saliva, and are often modestly priced, making them an affordable addition to any comprehensive background investigation.


Healthcare employees often work closely with patients. This means they might be exposed to sensitive information, including medical histories and personal information. These professionals need to have valid and current licenses. Performing a background check on a candidate’s licensure ensures they can legally practice in your facility and protect patient safety and confidentiality.

Because healthcare workers often have direct contact with vulnerable people, some criminal convictions raise red flags and might disqualify them from employment. These include theft offenses, violent crimes against adults or children, and sex offenses. Running a level 2 background check on all your candidates is a good idea to minimize risk. This includes fingerprint-based searches of state and national registries, designed to yield more information than a simple name-based search. As a human resources professional, you may need to extend an offer of employment and begin onboarding your new hires while you wait for the results of pre-employment background checks. This can be challenging, especially during the pandemic when court closures might delay your ability to access the needed records.

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Reference Checks

Healthcare background checks go beyond standard employment verification and check the credentials of professional references. They also include a level 2 fingerprint-based search that yields more information than standard name-based searches. Level 2 searches for healthcare professionals examine state and national registries listing healthcare workers the government has sanctioned. This allows employers to identify candidates with criminal records that prevent them from working in certain positions or receiving federal funds like Medicare.

During reference-checking, your professional references will verify applicants’ written and verbal information. They’ll also answer questions that help paint a full picture of an applicant’s skills, strengths, and performance and can give you insight into how they would perform at your company. Including this step in your hiring process helps you choose the best candidate.

You can ask your professional references various questions, but keeping them work-related is important. Depending on the role, these may include things like how long they worked with the candidate, how their performance was, and what the candidate’s work ethic is like. You can also ask for feedback on a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and determine whether or not they would recommend them to be hired.

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