The healthcare education industry in California faces a unique set of challenges when placing students in clinical settings. Both the hospital and sponsoring educational institution are up against enormous legal and financial risks, and conducting background checks on these individuals can come with significant negative consequences.

The Joint Commission (formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) requires that healthcare companies include students in their background check policies. While this requirement serves to mitigate risk, employment background checks are continuously scrutinized and even the tiniest flaw in screening practices can result in legal complaints. Read on for information about background checks in California.

What are the primary CA laws impacting the healthcare education industry?

California has some of the most complex regulations in the US when it comes to pre-employment background checks. Third party investigative background screenings on medical and nursing students must meet both the federal guidelines set by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), as well as state-specific regulations.

    • The California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA), for example,
      requires that employers who use third party screeners must provide an extensive and state-
      specific notice before running a background check on medical or nursing students each time
      an investigative report is requested. Additionally, public records information is generally limited
      to the past 7 years, with exceptions for regulated industries such as healthcare.
    • The Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA) covers an employer’s use of
      consumer credit reports, which can only be requested for certain positions in California such
      as healthcare. Similar to the ICRAA, the CCRAA requires employers and third party screeners
      meet stringent notice and consent procedures.

Due to the various federal and state regulations regarding background screening in California, hospitals & educational institutions face many potential risks when it comes to coordinating medical and nursing student placement.

Why do CA hospitals & educational institutions face legal consequences for screening practices?

In addition to the risks posed by the intersecting requirements of various jurisdictions, hospitals & educational institutions may be brought under legal scrutiny due to shortcomings inherent to some background screening processes.

Organizations relying on database information are at a much higher risk of collecting and considering inaccurate information. For example, databases may report out-of-date records that have recently been expunged, and an organization’s use of this record for employment purposes may violate both the FCRA and ICRAA.

Additionally, some criminal records cannot be reported without violating regulations. For example, California investigative reports collected for employment purposes cannot include records of arrests without conviction except in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, and only where the criminal record relates to the placement being filled.

How can CA employers in the healthcare education industry avoid litigation?

There are several simple ways that hospitals & educational institutions in California can fulfill medical and nursing placements while avoiding litigation. These include investing in compliance education, seeking the advice of legal counsel and screening experts, and creating and implementing specific policies and procedures that have been vetted by a compliance professional.

Background screening compliance is a complex and fairly specific niche with many variations and constant updating. Background checks in California are subject to pre-employment screening rules and regulations that are particularly complicated, but they aren’t impossible to navigate with an experienced and professional partner in pre-employment background screening.

The InfoMart Advantage Student Program

InfoMart offers Advantage Students to assist California hospitals & educational institutions with background screening compliance.

Advantage Students connects California hospitals, schools, and students through an easy-to-use and secure online screening process. Medical and nursing students can complete an online background check application and schedule a drug test online via a customized page with step-by-step instructions specific to their clinical program.

Students can complete Disclosure and Authorization forms that comply with both California and federal pre-employment screening regulations online. These electronic forms allow InfoMart to conduct the background check and share the resulting consumer report with both the school and hospital.

Schools and hospitals can view background check and drug test results for their clinical placements digitally and print results from InfoMart’s Advantage Students portal. Program administrators can indicate whether a student is accepted for onsite placement, and store screening and drug test results to assist in compliance audits.

Contact us today to learn more or get a free quote on experienced and compliant background screening for your healthcare education program.

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