In This Article


CNA Background Check: A Complete Guide [2023]

cna background check

If you’re in the process of hiring certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to work for your organization, it’s critical to conduct a thorough background check on each prospective candidate.

Did you know that a CNA was sentenced to 12 years in prison after stealing more than $300,000 from her elderly patients?

Certified nursing assistant background checks protect the vulnerable populations you serve from potential fraud, abuse, and exploitation. They also protect the safety of your employees and your organization.

Built on our experience running CNA background checks for employers across the nation, we wrote this guide for healthcare organizations to use as a resource.

Let’s start now.

What Is a CNA Background Check?

Healthcare organizations conduct CNA background checks to confirm that prospective applicants have the required qualifications and do not have any problematic issues, including patient abuse, certain criminal convictions, drug abuse, or thefts on their records.

CNAs perform important tasks within hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and private homes to ensure patients’ basic needs are met and that they remain safe. CNAs help patients with personal hygiene tasks, feeding, checking vital signs, and more, and they are important for your organization’s patient satisfaction and safety.

Running CNA background checks on each applicant can ensure your patients remain safe and well-cared for while also protecting your organization from potential liability.

Because of their direct contact with vulnerable patients, CNAs typically undergo more thorough background checks than other types of employees.

Important CNA Background Check Laws

Here are important laws that cover many types of employment background checks you should know.

Federal Laws

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a consumer privacy law that protects consumers in the information consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) collect, retain, and report.

This law covers both CRAs that complete employment background checks and employers who use them to make hiring decisions.

Under the FCRA, CRAs are prohibited from reporting certain information when it is older than seven years for positions paying annual salaries of less than $75,000. The restricted information includes the following:

  • Arrests that did not lead to convictions
  • Liens
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Bankruptcies
  • Civil judgments

These restrictions don’t apply to positions with annual salaries of $75,000 or more.

The FCRA’s restrictions similarly don’t apply to other critical information about an applicant’s prior convictions, education, or employment record, which can be reported no matter how old the information might be.

Employers that receive background check reports that include negative information must go through the FCRA’s adverse action process before they can make final adverse hiring decisions based on them.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is among the most important anti-discrimination laws ever passed in the U.S.

Title VII of this act specifically applies to employment and prohibits discrimination against applicants or employees based on their membership in protected groups.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal agency tasked with enforcing Title VII, employers that learn applicants have criminal records through background checks must complete individual assessments of the convictions as they relate to the open positions before they decide against hiring the applicants.

State Laws

Each state has different laws that affect employment background checks.

A growing number of state and local governments have enacted ban-the-box laws, which control at which point in the hiring process you can ask about criminal history information and/or conduct background checks.

Check with your state and local governments to understand your legal requirements.

CNA Background Check Requirements

The requirements for a background check for a CNA may depend on your state.

However, CNA background checks are generally more in-depth than regular employment screens because of the vulnerability of the patients CNAs serve.

Some healthcare organizations require Office of Inspector General (OIG) checks. These checks search whether an applicant’s name appears on the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE).

Hiring someone who appears in the LEIE database could result in substantial sanctions.

You might also need to perform a SAM background check if you federally contract with Medicare to ensure an applicant isn’t suspended or debarred.

A Fraud Abuse Control Information System (FACIS) check might be required for certain positions.

FACIS checks involve searching a collection of regularly updated databases to ensure CNAs and other healthcare workers have not committed fraud against the state or federal governments or abuse against patients they have served while performing their duties.

The different levels of FACIS checks include the following:

  • FACIS Level 1 – DEA, FDA, OFAC-SDN, OIG, Medicare, and Tricare checks at the federal level and state debarment and Medicaid sanctions at the state level
  • FACIS Level 2 – All searches included in Level 1 plus more relevant state data
  • FACIS Level 3 – All searches in Levels 1 and 2 plus sanctions data from all 56 states and U.S. territories

What Does a CNA Background Check Entail?

CNA background checks might vary based on the types of searches requested.

Most healthcare organizations ask for the following on their CNA background checks:

  • Identity verification
  • County criminal records check
  • Statewide criminal records checks
  • National criminal records search
  • National sex offender registry check
  • OIG check
  • SAM check
  • Employment verification
  • Education verification
  • License verification
  • Lab based drug screen

Let’s take a look at what might appear on some of these reports.

Criminal History

A criminal history check will return the following types of information about convictions or pending criminal matters:

  • Date of offense
  • Nature of offense
  • Level of offense (felony or misdemeanor)
  • Disposition
  • Date of disposition
  • Might include sentence information

Education Verification

An education verification will return the following information about an applicant’s educational attainment and history:

  • School’s name and address
  • Attendance dates
  • Whether any diplomas, certificates, or degrees were awarded

Employment Verification

Employment verification will return the following information about an applicant’s past employers and jobs:

  • Employer’s name and address
  • Dates of employment
  • Jobs and titles the applicant held

Professional License Verification

A professional license verification for a CNA will return the following information:

  • Certificate number
  • Date of issuance
  • Certificate type
  • Certificate status
  • Expiration date
  • Suspensions or other sanctions

Lab-Based Drug Screen

A pre-employment drug screen will show whether an applicant returned a positive result for one or more of the following substances:

  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone
  • Propoxyphene
  • Cocaine
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Marijuana

How to Conduct a Background Check on a CNA

Some employers try to complete CNA background checks through a do-it-yourself approach and send multiple requests to former employers, schools, and agencies. If you try this approach, you might receive old or incomplete information.

Others try using online vendors that promise to provide free background checks. These are typically fly-by-night companies that provide, in many cases, inaccurate and outdated information that might not comply with the FCRA and other relevant laws.

The best way to conduct a thorough, accurate, and FCRA-compliant background check is to partner with a reliable screening provider like iprospectcheck.

We follow all relevant laws and return fully compliant, comprehensive background check reports to our clients.

What Disqualifies You from Working as a CNA?

Several issues might prevent an applicant from a job as a CNA.

Some of the most common reasons why an applicant might be turned down for a position as a CNA are listed below.

1. Certain Criminal Convictions

CNAs work in close contact with vulnerable patients. Because of this, many state nursing boards will disqualify CNAs who have certain types of convictions because of the potential danger to patients under their care.

While the requirements vary, most states will disqualify prospective CNAs with the following types of convictions:

  • Violent crimes
  • Sex crimes
  • Elder abuse/neglect
  • Exploitation of the elderly
  • Crimes against children
  • Theft
  • DUIs within the past couple of years
  • Drug theft
  • Certain drug crimes

2. Appearance on the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities

CNA applicants who are listed on the LEIE database can’t work for organizations that contract with Medicaid or Medicare.

Being listed on the LEIE or sanctions database will likely result in being turned down for a CNA position.

3. Dishonesty About Past Employment

Employers want to verify that the candidates they hire are honest and trustworthy.

If a CNA applicant lies about past jobs, an employer that completes employment verification will be able to see the applicant’s dishonesty and will likely deny them the position.

4. Dishonesty About Education

CNA applicants who embellish information about their educational attainment might be denied employment by employers who request education verification.

5. Positive Drug Test

Most healthcare organizations require pre-employment drug screens as a condition of employment for CNA positions.

An applicant who returns a positive result on a drug screen will likely be denied the job.

6. Licensure Problems

Employers that complete professional license verification will see whether a CNA’s license is current and valid.

When an applicant’s certification is suspended or expired, the employer might deny employment.

How Long Does a CNA Background Check Take?

How long you might have to wait to get your CNA background check results will vary based on how you complete the screen.

If you try a do-it-yourself approach by searching online and sending requests to numerous state agencies, employers, and schools, it could take several weeks for you to receive the information you need.

This is another good reason to work with iprospectcheck. We have extensive access to background information resources and use cutting-edge research methods.

Our approach allows us to return background check reports in as few as a couple of hours.

Get Started with Fast, Accurate & Compliant CNA Background Checks Today

Conducting background checks on prospective CNAs is crucial for healthcare organizations of all sizes.

Failing to complete thorough checks could place your patients at risk of harm and expose your organization to substantial liability.

At iprospectcheck, we specialize in serving midmarket to large healthcare organizations across the U.S.

Call us now to learn about our healthcare background checks and clinical services or to receive a free, no-obligation quote: 888-808-9997

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.