Solid Pre-Employment Screening a Necessity for Medical Offices


Hiring an employee with a questionable or criminal background could be the worst nightmare for any medical practice, but some practice managers may not be taking all of the necessary steps to prevent this or other human resources mistakes.

Nuesoft’s August podcast, “Reducing Liability and Improving Employee Satisfaction Through Strong HR Policies” explores some of the downsides of not having buttoned up hiring and HR processes, and offers tips for medical offices to avoid negligent hiring litigation and otherwise improve HR practices.

According to Denise Algire, a consultant with Risk Navigation Group and the podcast’s featured speaker, when it comes to hiring, practices may not be as diligent as they need to be about screening providers and other potential employees.

“Background checks may be included as part of the credentialing process, and some payers even require them in their contracts,” said Algire. “But there are many instances where proper background screenings are not conducted for new hires, and if you’re just relying on credentialing, it’s probably not sufficient.”

Credentialing typically includes verification of education, employment, experience, certifications and licenses, but it may not include a criminal background check. Some state medical boards do conduct background checks as part of the licensing process, but rules vary from state to state  – including those for disciplining providers, so records of arrest or other criminal or disciplinary issues might not surface during a credentialing verification investigation.

“There are all kinds of scenarios where practice administrators checked with a state licensing board, but the report did not turn up criminal convictions, and a negligent hiring lawsuit ensued,” said Algire.

The impact of not performing due diligence during the application process has been illustrated through a couple of recent high profile cases that included multimillion dollar jury verdicts against health care facilities that were found liable because they hired people with criminal records, resulting in patient harm.

While these were in the small percentage of cases, there still can be significant cost to a practice that does not screen candidates properly.

“The average health care provider pays out $200,000 in claims for damages related to poor hiring decisions,” said Gillen, “and fines and other costs can be much higher.”

In those situations, even if insurance covers monetary damages, it may be impossible for the practice to recover from the damage to its image and reputation.


Good Hiring Practices Checklist
Practices can use the following checklist to prescreen candidates and reduce their risk of a negligent hiring lawsuit or other negative ramifications:


Beyond just the hiring process, there is an entirely different –but equally important – set of policies and processes for the ongoing management of employees. These should be clearly documented and uniformly practiced.

Medical practices that want to learn more can tune in to the August podcast.