Human Resources: Ferreting Out the Unfit

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The data also don't account for different standards in different states.

"That's going to be a problem," says Gail M. Blanchard-Saiger, vice president of Labor & Employment at the California Hospital Association. "What is required to be reported in California to the state board versus what is required in another state?"

And that's the dilemma, Becker says. "You can pull together a database that shows they have the right to practice in this state, but that is no guarantee that in state A they have the same standards as state B. It also is no guarantee that state A has done their due diligence with the background checks," he says.

That shortcoming with the national database is exacerbated, he says, when medical professionals with checkered resumes gain new licenses in states other than the ones that issued the original license. It creates more opportunities to hide disciplinary issues.

Rather than relying too much on the NPDB to clear employee candidates, Becker says it's probably just better to think of the new data as one more tool in the tool box. Criminal background checks by outside agencies will still be needed. Your hospital will still have to directly contact the credentialing or licensing agency in the employee candidate's home state.

"Is that a guarantee that the criminal activity is going to be surfaced? I don't think it's a guarantee but it is two passes at it because hopefully the licensing organization is going to do some of that [monitoring] as well," he says.

John Commins

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