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Medical Assistant Background Check: A Complete Guide [2022]

medical assistant background check

If your healthcare organization is hiring medical assistants (MAs), you should conduct in-depth background checks on each candidate you consider.

Were you aware that a Minnesota medical assistant employed in a detention facility was charged after aiding a suspected murderer?

Medical assistant background checks protect your organization, your employees, and the patients you serve.

Based on our experience running background checks for healthcare organizations across the nation, we’ve created this guide to use when you are hiring medical assistants.

Let’s start now.

What is a Medical Assistant Background Check?

A medical assistant background check shows whether an applicant has the necessary qualifications to perform their job.

It also reveals whether an applicant is trustworthy and if they have issues that should preclude their hiring, including drug abuse, thefts, disqualifying criminal convictions, or patient abuse.

Why is it Important to Conduct Background Checks on Medical Assistants?

Medical assistants are typically employed by medical offices and hospitals to provide administrative and clinical services.

They frequently have significant contact with patients as a regular part of their jobs.

A medical assistant might be required to do the following types of things:

  • Handle patient scheduling
  • Manage patient records
  • Check vital signs
  • Collect bodily fluids for lab tests
  • Handle medical instruments

Because of the significant contact that MAs have with patients and their access to confidential patient records and medications stored in offices or facilities, running thorough background checks on medical assistants is critical for ensuring patient safety while reducing your liability risks.

What Does a Background Check for Medical Assistants Include?

Medical assistant background check requirements might vary based on your state and your organization’s needs.

Most healthcare organizations request the following searches on MA background checks:

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

Here’s a brief description of what might appear on a few of these searches.

Criminal History

A pre-employment criminal history search can show whether an applicant has potentially disqualifying convictions or pending criminal cases.

If an applicant has a conviction or a pending criminal case, you will see the following information:

  • Case number
  • Charge or charges
  • Offense date
  • Offense severity (misdemeanor or felony)
  • Disposition
  • Disposition date
  • Sentence information if available

In jurisdictions that allow people to expunge certain convictions, any expunged offense won’t be reported.

License Verification

If you are hiring certified medical assistants (CMAs), you might request professional license verification.

A professional license and certification check reveals the following information:

  • Certificate number
  • Certification date
  • Certificate status
  • Issuance date
  • Certificate type
  • Expiration date
  • Sanctions

Employment Verification

Employment verification can show an applicant’s work record and help to determine whether they are honest and trustworthy.

An employment verification shows the following details about each of an applicant’s past jobs:

  • Employer’s name and address
  • Employment dates
  • Job titles and positions held

Education Verification

Education verification confirms an applicant’s reported education and shows the following information about the schools they attended:

  • Name and address of each school
  • Attendance dates
  • Whether they earned diplomas, certificates, or degrees

OIG Check

Many healthcare organizations request Office of Inspector General (OIG) checks.

These searches check the OIG’s List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE) to see whether an applicant appears on it.

The LEIE is a database that’s updated monthly and lists people who are prohibited from working in jobs that contract with the federal Medicare or state Medicaid programs.

SAM Check

If your organization contracts with Medicare, you might also request a System of Awards Management (SAM) check.

This search shows whether an applicant is debarred or suspended from entering into contracts with Medicare.

Lab-Based Drug Screen

A pre-employment drug screen reveals whether an applicant has recently used one or more of the following drugs:

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

What Disqualifies You From Working as a Medical Assistant?

An applicant for a medical assistant position might be disqualified for several reasons.

Here are some common red flags on background checks that might result in a denial of employment.

1. Specific Types of Criminal Convictions

Simply having a criminal conviction doesn’t mean that an applicant will be turned down for a medical assistant position.

However, when an applicant has certain types of convictions, they might be denied employment.

Medical assistants have substantial contact with patients and their confidential records. Because of these factors, applicants with the following types of convictions might be denied employment:

  • Thefts
  • Drug thefts
  • Sex offenses
  • Violent crimes
  • Crimes against children or the elderly
  • Certain drug offenses

2. Being Listed on the LEIE

People who are listed in the LEIE database are prohibited from working for healthcare organizations that federally contract with Medicare or Medicaid.

If an applicant’s name appears in the LEIE database, their application for an MA position will likely be denied.

3. Lying About Past Jobs

Some applicants lie on their applications by omitting companies at which they had employment problems or fudging employment dates to hide gaps in employment.

Employers that request employment verification can quickly spot misrepresentations and will likely react by denying employment.

4. Lying About Education

While medical assistants typically don’t need formal education beyond high school, some applicants will still lie about their educational attainment.

Employers that request education verification can see applicants have been dishonest and likely will reject their applications.

5. Positive Pre-Employment Drug Screen

Medical assistants might have access to medications in their facilities or offices. Because of this, most healthcare organizations condition employment offers on passing drug screens.

If an applicant fails a pre-employment drug test by returning a positive result, the employer will likely withdraw the employment offer.

6. Certification Problems

While medical assistants don’t necessarily need to be certified, some healthcare organizations only want to hire certified medical assistants.

An applicant who has issues with their certification or has an invalid and expired license might be turned down for a CMA job.

How to Get a Medical Assistant Background Check

Some organizations attempt do-it-yourself medical assistant background checks.

They might send several requests for information to an applicant’s past schools and former employees as well as state agencies. They might also conduct online searches for information about an applicant’s background.

Taking this route might take weeks and return incomplete, outdated, and inaccurate information that might not comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), potentially placing your organization in jeopardy.

The best approach to getting a medical assistant background check is to work with a reliable partner like iprospectcheck.

Through our extensive access to current, reliable databases and advanced research methods, we are quickly able to return comprehensive and FCRA-compliant background checks, allowing our clients to make informed hiring decisions quickly.

Medical Assistant Background Check Laws

There aren’t any laws that specifically apply to medical assistant background checks.

However, two federal laws apply to employment background checks in general.

1. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The FCRA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and protects consumer privacy in information gathered, retained, and reported by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), including employment background check providers.

This law also covers employers who request background check reports and use the information to make employment decisions.

The FCRA prohibits CRAs from reporting certain types of information for jobs paying less than $75,000 per year when the information is more than seven years old.

The seven-year restriction applies to the following types of background information:

  • Arrests that didn’t result in convictions other than in pending criminal cases
  • Liens
  • Bankruptcies
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Civil judgments

While these restrictions don’t apply to jobs offering salaries of at least $75,000, most medical assistant positions pay less than this threshold and will be subject to the FCRA’s reporting restrictions.

The restrictions don’t apply to other types of key information about an applicant’s background, however. There is no time restriction on the reporting of criminal conviction information, pending criminal case information, education, employment, certificates, and others.

If you receive a background check report that contains adverse information about an applicant, you must complete the adverse action process before you can make a final decision not to hire them based on that information.

2. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act provides important anti-discrimination protections to members of protected groups within the workplace.

Title VII forbids workplace discrimination based on an applicant’s or employee’s protected characteristics and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

This law applies to background checks when criminal history information is revealed.

Under EEOC guidance, you must individually assess conviction records as they relate to the duties of the position for which you are hiring before basing an adverse employment decision on that information.

Turn to iprospectcheck for Your Allied Health Background Check Needs

It’s critical for healthcare organizations to conduct background checks on prospective medical assistant hires.

If you don’t complete thorough checks on your applicants, your organization, current employees, and patients could be at risk.

At iprospectcheck, we provide background screening services for healthcare organizations hiring MAs, CNAs, EMTs, pharmacy technicians, and more across the nation including in:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Arizona
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts

To learn more about the background screening and clinical services solutions we offer, call iprospectcheck today for a free quote: (888) 509-1979

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.