Background checks take a back seat

Thursday, June 30, 2005

LA HABRA, Calif. -- With HIPAA security and privacy regulations in place, it's high time that companies move employee background checks to the forefront of their hiring process, said industry consultant Maureen Hanna.
Even before HIPAA, companies had plenty of reasons to conduct employee background checks. Among them: the need to insure that billing staff are trustworthy and that delivery techs and therapists -- all employees who enter patient homes -- don't have a criminal history.
"If there are children in the home, you want to make sure that the individual isn't a registered predator," Hanna said.
Most medical equipment dealers, she said, perform background checks on drivers transporting oxygen because it's mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Otherwise, not only do they generally skip background checks, but they also don't validate information on a resume because it can be time consuming, Hanna said.
Ideally, before hiring a new employee, a provider should perform a criminal background check, a credit check and obtain a DMV print out. The company should also check a person's references and educational credentials. If something shows up during a criminal background check, additional court records should be reviewed. While this sounds extensive, it generally costs about $100, Hanna said.
"You've got to be sure that you can trust people to go in and deliver equipment and not take drugs or anything," said Bill Garcia, a retired police officer who recently started Comprehensive Background Check in La Habra, Calif. "You also want to make sure that you can trust the people who handle the money."
In fact, when Hanna works with a company experiencing AR problems, she often asks the provider if they perform background checks -- and with good reason. At one small DME company, she said, a biller deposited some of the company's checks into her private account. The employee and her husband planned to use the money to start a travel agency.
"Sure enough, both she and her husband had financial problems, and I would guess that if a credit report had been done it would have turned up previous bankruptcies and things like that, " Hanna said.