The Executive Director of the West Virginia Board of Medicine raised a few eyebrows when he declared "background checks is one of those ideas which sound better than it actually is". He declared them "overly cumbersome" and expensive. Interesting. Especially considering all the malfeasance in the healthcare and medical industry where known felons, sex offenders, and substance abusers have been hired only to cause embarrassment to state and public service agencies as well as to the healthcare industry in general.
The Register Herald certainly took exception to the Executive Director's statements. In an editorial, to be polite, the newspaper questioned the wisdom of not conducting background checks on healthcare personnel. The newspaper declared it "shocking" that background checks aren't mandated for the related licensing boards. The editorial noted that thirty-three states do conduct background checks for licensed healthcare personnel and the employment screening process averages around $12.00 and takes about twelve weeks to complete.
Then there is the little matter of costly litigation incurred from lawsuits and liability claims. If you factor in the lawsuits, the payouts, the retraining process involved with firing healthcare personnel and hiring new employees, it would seem the few bucks is a pretty cheap investment. But then common sense is not so common these days. In fact, sometimes it is a rare commodity.
Here is what the Register Herald had to say. I will just post it here as a quote, because it sums up the situation pretty well...
"Federal and state officials have been, and are continuing to focus multiple investigations into “pill mills” and rogue docs who are writing phony scripts. Why not head some this off at the pass with background checks. If it stops just one bad physician from being able to practice, it is certainly worth the time and money.
Everything that can be done to curtail the prescription drug abuse epidemic must be done and starting with criminal checks of doctors and all others who have access is just logical.
It provides a tremendous value and legitimacy to the licensing process and those who think otherwise are a bit backward.
Health care professionals in West Virginia should demand these background checks and it needs to be taken care of by our state lawmakers during the 2011 regular session."
Honestly, it is foolish to think in this world you can get away with not conducting background checks on healthcare personnel. The joint Pulitzer Prize Winning study and subsequent articles from media watchdog, Pro Publica, and the Los Angeles Times provided damning evidence of assorted malfeasance and shoddy oversight within the healthcare industry. After reading that study, what else do oversight boards really need to know?