Tip of the week: Set standards for background checks

Residency Program Insider, July 14, 2009

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Now that the new residents are settled in, you have a chance to reflect on how orientation went. Consider including your background check process on your list of items to review. If you received a hit—negative information—on a report, did you know how to handle it, or were you left scrambling for guidance?
Keep the following tips in mind as you review your process for handling negative information on background checks for new or current residents:

  • Don’t ignore a hit. Although taking the head-in-the-sand approach is the easiest way of handling these situations, it’s not the safest or most responsible. Evaluate the information until you are comfortable making a decision about letting the person enter or remain in your program.
  • Check your policies. You should have a policy or procedure describing how you will assess negative information and follow up on the information through the background checks. If you don’t have one, check with the hospital’s credentialing or applicant processing policy, which may guide you on background check issues.
  • Hear the individual out. Give the person an opportunity to explain his or her side of the story. Ask the applicant or resident to submit a written description of the incident and copies of any police or court documents related to the incident.
  • Do your own research. If a criminal proceeding occurred, write to the police department with a Freedom of Information Act request to get the actual records for your review.
  • Dig deeper. Determine whether there is a pattern of criminal behavior or whether the event was a one-time incident. Consider speaking to the individual’s previous employers to determine whether there were any problems.
  • Document, document, document. You must show that you evaluated the incident and determined that the person is safe to provide patient care. Not having this documentation could be a potential problem if a lawsuit occurs later involving the resident. Document your assessment by describing how you reviewed the information, including the resident’s written statement and any other legal documents pertaining to the case and writing a summary of conversations you have with the individual.

This week’s tip is from Residency Program Alert, published by HCPro Inc.

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