State Background Checks for Medical Professionals

Having a background check conducted during an application process is part of the course for job candidates regardless of field, but as we have seen, not all background checks are the same, particularly for individuals that come in direct contact with children, the elderly, and the disabled. But what about periodic employee background checks? In many states, teachers and healthcare workers – and essentially those needing to re-apply for licenses – need to undergo such a procedure.

In Indiana recently, the state decided to be more stringent with its background checks for healthcare professionals. A bill passed in early April states that the state can suspend, deny, or revoke an individual because of criminal offenses.

Up until recently, Indiana has been using a self-reporting system, and healthcare workers were not reporting their offenses when renewing their licenses.

In Michigan, however, the state may be running too many background checks on healthcare workers and recently revised its policy. In order to cut down on the number of screenings performed on new hires, the state enacted the following restrictions on conditional employees:
• A background check should not be run if the individual had one conducted during the past 12 months.
• A background check should not be performed if the individual was continuously employed from the time he or she was last screened.
• The applicant must prove he or she is a state resident.

Is this policy sound in Michigan? What happens if the new hire, while a resident of Michigan and continuously employed at a coveted entity for the past 12 months, was arrested during that time? Would the state only know about the crime if the individual is screened for a license renewal?

Indiana has its background check policy in the right place. Rather than counting on employees to divulge their criminal histories, the state is taking the task upon itself.