Table of Contents

2023 Guide to Healthcare Background Check Requirements

Doctor pointing at Human Resources process for health care

Navigating The Healthcare Background Check Process

Having a solid healthcare background check process is crucial in an industry that is constantly evolving, changing, and in unprecedented demand all at once.

Why are Healthcare Background Checks Important?

Those in the healthcare industry need to be well-trained and provide the highest quality of care to their patients, which requires comprehensive healthcare background checks. These checks capture a healthcare applicant’s background, history, and work credentials, allowing hiring agents to evaluate whether the applicant in question is the best fit for the role. People’s lives may depend on it.

Running a full healthcare background check on every applicant might seem unnecessary, but preventing a bad applicant (who can turn into a dangerous healthcare provider) is paramount.

Background check requirements for healthcare workers are more thorough and specific than other types of background checks as they are designed to navigate the liabilities and risks inherent to the healthcare industry:

  • A provider needs to verify that applicants fit the qualifications for their intended role. 
  • They protect patients/employees from potential negative situations in the future.
  • They decrease exposure to a potential negligent-hire legal issue because of not understanding an applicant’s history. 
  • They encourage applicants to be honest in the hiring process once they know their background is being checked.
  • They verify that current employees haven’t had any criminal offenses in the time after their initial hiring.
  • They ensure that licensed professionals hold valid licenses and that nothing has been revoked.
What Do Healthcare Background Checks Look Like in 2023?

A healthcare background check today assesses several categories and items, which we will explore in detail. Healthcare background check requirements include National Criminal Search, National Sex Offender Search, Identity Verification Check, Drug Screening, Past Employment and Education Verification, Federal Exclusion Search, and other considerations and verifications.

Each of these items is crucial because they assess different aspects of an applicant’s history and work preventively to ensure no stone is unturned, so to speak.

National Criminal Search

Most employers already screen job applicants before hiring, but continuously monitoring employees after they’re hired is becoming an increasingly common practice. Pre-employment screening helps reduce the risk of hiring applicants who are dangerous, dishonest or unqualified. Still, ongoing screening is needed to detect new behaviors such as criminal activity and drug use.

Current forecasts predict that 12 percent of the workforce will be arrested within five years, making it essential for screening to be a continuing process. However, this practice can also make employees feel uncomfortable and untrusted. Avoiding this outcome requires companies to develop a well-crafted policy on continuous criminal background checks and communicate that policy to employees.

National Sex Offender Search

This is a quick search but an important one. National Sex Offender Searches draw data from each state and territory, and D.C. This type of search identifies those who have been charged, convicted of, or pled  “guilty” to a sex offense. More than half a million sex offenders reside in America, and since healthcare workers frequently interact with children and at-risk adults, this type of search is crucial. To run a search, you can access the National Sex Offender search site and follow the on-screen prompts to type in your applicant’s name, date of birth, and other healthcare background check requirements.

Identity Verification Check & Drug Screening Process

Identity verification checks simply verify that the candidate is not lying about their identity. They also establish that any background checks thereafter will assess the correct person. Products like KarmaCheck have options to perform these kinds of searches.

Drug screening is crucial for healthcare. The simple reason for this is that healthcare employees have constant contact with highly potent prescription medications. It’s imperative to know whether an applicant might have a history involving the use and abuse of prescription medications. Unfortunately, drug abuse is commonplace for physicians and healthcare providers. One popular journal estimates that almost 1 in 8 US physicians struggle with substance abuse. Drug screenings can uncover drug abuse that may preclude an applicant from a healthcare role.

Past Employment and Education Verification

Most healthcare jobs require an upper-level degree or some technical expertise and experience. An education/employment verification check helps verify that your applicant has a valid degree of knowledge. Employment verification will also help you determine if the candidate was released from a previous role because of behaviors like workplace negligence on the job. You can simply contact previous employer references and educational institutions to verify that an applicant is telling the truth about their previous status.

Federal Exclusion Search

A federal exclusion search enables employers to view a federal list of healthcare employees who are excluded from receiving federal monies. This search identifies applicants who may be actively employed in healthcare who carry a criminal history, who would prevent your healthcare organization from involvement in federally funded policies.

What Disqualifies You From Working in Healthcare?

Disqualifications from working in healthcare can vary depending on the specific role, location, and healthcare background check requirements. Common disqualifiers include felony convictions, drug-related offenses, patient abuse or neglect, and certain types of fraud or embezzlement convictions. It’s crucial to check with local healthcare regulatory bodies, employers, and licensing boards for precise disqualification criteria in your area.

What Are Health Care Sanctions?

Healthcare sanctions refer to punitive actions imposed on healthcare providers or organizations for violating healthcare laws or regulations, which are often part of the background check requirements for healthcare workers. Sanctions can include fines, suspension or revocation of licenses, exclusion from government healthcare programs, or restrictions on practice. These sanctions aim to maintain the integrity of the healthcare system and protect patients from substandard care or fraudulent activities.

How Far Back Will a Typical Background Check for Healthcare Workers Go?

The extent of background checks for healthcare workers can vary but typically covers at least the past seven to ten years of an individual’s criminal history, aligning with healthcare background check requirements. Some employers and healthcare institutions may conduct more extensive checks, including verification of education, professional licenses, and employment history. The depth of the background check may depend on the specific role and responsibilities of the healthcare worker, as well as legal and institutional requirements.

How Long Does a Healthcare Background Check Take?

The duration of a healthcare background check can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the check, the number of jurisdictions involved, and the responsiveness of reference sources. In general, a healthcare background check, as part of the background check requirements for healthcare workers, may take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to complete. It’s essential for healthcare workers to provide accurate and timely information to expedite the process and ensure a smooth hiring or licensing experience.


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to healthcare background checks, what might seem tedious and laborious is a small price to pay for the ability to prevent serious issues down the road. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help your organization to optimize the background check process.


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