Sanctioned Nurses Exploit Background Checking Loopholes

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Nurse Background ChecksHealth care organizations are unknowingly hiring sanctioned or disciplined nurses with a history of endangering patients, drug theft and abuse as a result of insufficient background checking processes and programs. Nurses with records of misconduct are able to manipulate multi-state licensing programs and continue working across state lines. Programs such as the Nurse Licensure Compact were originally put in place to stem the problem of the nursing shortage, but have unintentionally created a dangerous security loophole that could put patients, staff and the organization at risk.

Twenty-four states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, a decade-old partnership between states that allows a nurse who obtains a license in one state to work in all of the other compact states. But according to a recent USA Today article, there are major regulatory gaps that allow nurses who are sanctioned and disciplined in their home states to be allowed to work in other states under the multistate license.

Following the firing of a nurse for stealing painkillers at a Wisconsin hospital, officials there alerted the police and state nursing regulators of the incident. However, the nurse was able to use his multistate license, which remained active, to become a traveling nurse and was working in a North Carolina hospital by the time he was convicted on drug charges in Wisconsin. This demonstrates one of the serious gaps in the compact system. – outside of the compact, each state licenses and disciplines its own nurses, but in the compact, states often allow nurses to work that have not been screened beyond the state they are seeking employment..

Health care organizations can face serious risks to patient and employee safety, fines, and penalties by hiring sanctioned or unlicensed nurses or other health care professionals. The following health care background check best practices will help you identify individuals that have sanctions or other disciplinary actions against them:

• Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE) Check – This screen identifies individuals and entities banned from participating in federally funded health care programs for fraud, patient abuse and other health care sanctions.

• General Services Administration (GSA) Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) Checks – This search identifies individuals or organizations excluded from receiving federal contracts due to debarments, suspensions, and other exclusionary actions.

• Professional License Verification – Based on a social security number (SSN) trace report, an employer can verify all licensure incurrent and previous states.

• Fraud and Abuse Control Information System (FACIS®) Check – Conducts a comprehensive national search of disciplinary actions taken by federal, licensing and certification agencies.

• Ongoing License and Sanction Monitoring – Licenses will expire, investigations can conclude and sanctions can be placed on a nurse at any time, so it’s critical to perform ongoing background and sanction checks.

• Identity and Criminal Record Checks – Screen SSNs for validity and check addresses via a SSN Trace for criminal history

Hiring the most qualified nurses and other health care professionals is a critical step for ensuring patient safety, maintaining compliance and providing the highest standard of care for the community. Following these common health care background check best practices can help close the security gap that may organizations face by not thoroughly screening all of their health care professionals.

Learn more background screening best practices in meeting health care industry compliance and helping protect your patients and staff by downloading our complimentary white paper: Best Practices: Background Screening in the Health Care Industry



HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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