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Thread: Background Checks for HIPAA

  1. #1
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    Default Background Checks for HIPAA

    I am the HR Supervisor for a medical company. Up until this point we have not done background checks on employees. Our CSO has informed me that according to HIPAA regulations, any employee who has access to patient information is required to have had a "clean" background check.

    From a labor standpoint, I have a number of questions.
    1. Can we do background checks on current employees?
    2. If a current employee's background check comes back with a problem (as it pertains to HIPAA/patient care), can we terminate him/her?
    3. Can we institute background checks as a prerequisite for employment?
    4. Can we pick and choose which employees get background checks (i.e. only employees with access to patient data, but no one else)?

    Before I talk to the COO/CFO about instituting background checks (and paying for them!), I want to make sure I have these answers.

    Thank you!

    **edited to add**
    We are a Georgia-based company with employees in GA, AL, MS, LA, and NC

    Last edited by HR Newbie; 03-02-2006 at 06:58 AM.

  2. #2
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    The answers to questions 1, 3, and 4 are yes. I'm going to have to see what your state says about 2, but my guess (knowing what I do about GA laws) it that it's probably okay.

  3. #3
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    Just for the record, HIPAA does not require background checks.

  4. #4
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    Our CSO gave me a copy of the NIST (Nat'l Institute of Standards and Technology) Special Publication 800-66 "An Introductory Resource Guide for Implementing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule" dated March 2005.

    Section 4.3 Workforce Security is entitled "Establish a Workforce Clearance Procedure."
    The description includes "Implement appropriate screening of persons who will have access to EPHI" (Electronic Protected Health Information).
    The sample questions listed for this point include "Are applicants' employment and educational references checked, if reasonable and appropriate?" and "Have background checks been completed, if reasonable and appropriate?"

    Our CSO is all about keeping us beyond reproach so he's inclined to err on the side of caution - hence, he's recommending (demanding?) background checks. I don't think they're such a bad idea anyway from the employer's POV, but I just want to make sure we're covered from a Labor Law standpoint.

    Thanks!

  5. #5
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    I'm not saying it is a bad idea, just that the law itself does not require it. What you are reading from is a guide that has what they consider the best practice to be which is different from stating that the law mandates it.

  6. #6
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    I understand. Thanks!

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