The state senate in Virginia will be considering a bill at this year’s general assembly that would require state criminal background checks for nursing license applicants.

Currently, the state doesn’t mandate that nursing applicants must share any substance abuse or criminal history on their licensing questionnaire. In other words, they can lie. This News Leader article points out at least two cases where nurses failed to disclose their substance abuse criminal histories and were granted nursing licenses in Virginia.

Employers are supposed to follow up on their own hires, but as we know from this post we wrote a few months back about how many doctors are practicing medicine without undergoing background checks, due diligence isn’t always employers strongest suit. It doesn’t help that 24 states, including Virginia, who belong to the Nursing Licensure Compact let thousands of nurses practice across state lines without having to re-apply for a license.

The new bill – requiring applicants to submit fingerprints and agree to a criminal history check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – is a start to help eliminating any problem nurses who slip through the Virginia system. The fact that fingerprinting and the criminal history record check would need to be paid for by the applicant could also help weed out any people with suspect pasts.

But – and this is a big BUT – fingerprinting, even when run through an extensive database like the FBI’s, isn’t foolproof. Yes, an FBI fingerprint check will reveal personal data like your birth, names, addresses, employment and arrests but it can have incomplete or inaccurate information. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS, of which we’re an accredited agency) reports that 1.8 million workers who were subjected to FBI fingerprint checks in 2012 had faulty or incomplete information in their returns. Plus, a fingerprint check doesn’t include current findings on a personal use of illegal substances – only a drug test would prove that.

A typical background check for healthcare workers should include the following (and does when conducted by Active Screening):

Identity & Credit
Establish your applicant’s identity, address history and personal responsibility.

Driver’s Records
Determine eligibility for driving a company or personal vehicle for business use.

Criminal Records
Identify criminal convictions or lack thereof so that you can hire with confidence.

References & Credentialing
Confirm the information provided on a resume and/or job application.

Substance Abuse Testing
Insulate your organization from workplace accidents, violence and rising health care costs.

Electronic I-9 Solutions
Verify your applicants right to work through integration with E-Verify.

Global Solutions
For a global workforce or organizations who hire overseas individuals.

Applicant-Entry Solutions
Give your applicants a simple online paperless form and payment solution.

Asking a state to mandate this type of thorough background check for its licensed healthcare practitioners is a solid first step, but it’s probably only able to be accomplished at the employer level. Starting small with a fingerprinting law at the applicant status is certainly better than nothing.

Active Screening is committed to providing healthcare organizations top-tier screening services tailored to your needs, whether it’s screening foreign physicians or volunteers. We work closely with you to:

  • comply with federal regulations
  • protect patient safety and privacy
  • manage risks and minimize liabilities

Give one of our talented healthcare screening experts a call today at 1-800-319-5580.

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