The Joint Commission’s Requirements for a Criminal Background Check

The Joint Commission (formerly known as JAHCO) is the organization that accredits more than 21,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. Its Mission Statement reads, To continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.“

As part of this statement, it sets requirements for criminal background checks.

The Joint Commission’s website  identifies their requirements relative to the completion of criminal background checks on staff, students and volunteers.

“Staff, students and volunteers who work in the same capacity as staff who provide care, treatment, and services, would be expected to have criminal background checks verified when required by law and regulation and organization policy.”

“This means that if state law, regulation or organization policy requires background checks on all employees, volunteers and students, Joint Commission expects them to be done on all three categories. If state law requires background checks on only specified types of health care providers (e.g. nursing assistants/child care workers), then Joint Commission would require background checks on only those specified in state law (unless organization policy goes beyond state law).”

“If state law requires background checks on all “employees”, the organization should seek an opinion from the state on what categories of health care workers are considered “employees”. If the state clearly does not consider volunteers or students to be employees, then Joint Commission would not require background checks on them (unless organization policy goes beyond state law and requires it).”

“If state law is ambiguous as to the definition of employee, the organization can define the scope of background checks to fit its own definition. As such, they may include or exclude students and volunteers, and Joint Commission would survey to hospital policy. In the absence of a state law on criminal background checks, each organization can develop its own expectations, e.g., and organization elects to screen employees and not students/volunteers. Joint Commission would evaluate compliance with the organization’s internal policy only.”

“There would be no Joint Commission expectation that an organization check categories of providers beyond what is required in their own policy, which must comply with law and regulation. All criminal background checks must be documented by the organization.”

National Research will provide guidance relative to the Joint Commission’s  directive to ensure your organization is compliant with their requirements.