By Francis Beifuss
This guest post is brought to you by Jarl Security. Jarl Security is founded and operated by military special operators and retains experts in loss prevention, investigations, and professional security. Jarl provides commercial, industrial, and non-profit clients with security personal, consulting, training, and staff background and risk evaluations.
People are the lifeforce of every business and dental practices are no exception. In today’s work environment turnover isn’t just high it’s inevitable. So, whether your practice is decades old or just getting off the ground, hiring is an essential function. Which begs the questions, who is working for you? And how do you pick them?
First consider what is at stake. Employees directly reflect on their practices’ reputation, they influence the quality of service, efficiency, and company culture. They also have a lot of access. In a dental practice their access could include narcotics, sensitive personal/HIPAA information, customer credit card information, and your practices financial information. Like Kathy Thorner, an office manager in a Kentucky dental practice, who was convicted for tax fraud and embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars of employee tax withholdings.
Some employees are trusted to perform medical procedures on patients.
All that trust also creates exposure. Losing track of narcotics could jeopardize your license; a front office person who flies off the handle when they get frustrated could scare off patients; and an associate dentist who brings on a suit for malpractice or harassment, will result in your practice footing the bill.
Keeping all that in mind it is safe to say every employee in your office needs at least a national criminal background check. But here are some additional considerations for different positions:
Dental Office Manager and Front Office Staff:
Your front office staff are the first and last people patients see. So, it is important to screen for potential damage they could do to your reputation. Checking their social media for signs of extremism or hints they behave offensively in a professional setting is important.
Depending on the access they have to financial information including you practices and clients, checking them for major debts or addictions that create financial instability should be checked when able. Substance abuse and gambling are the most common.
Even though they may not have the same level of access your medical staff has to narcotics, they still know where they are kept, and can figure out a way to get them if they really wanted to. Signs or history of substance abuse needs to be something you check for.
Dental Assistants and Hygienists:
These staff members are trusted to interact in varying capacities with patients. Whatever they do is vouched-for under your license. So, it is extra important to make sure they don’t have signs of any behaviors that could make patients unsafe or uncomfortable around them. Getting their teeth worked on can be unpleasant or even scary enough for your patients, the last thing you want is for them to feel like the person with sharp items inside their mouth is a creep.
I cannot stress enough to check these employees’ social media for signs of being unhinged or unprofessional. Also, these individuals will likely have lots of access to narcotics, substance abuse is something that should be checked for.
Employer references are important to check for these staff. Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. Ask for work references and follow up on them.
Associate dentists are extremely important to vet. Not just for criminal background but also quality. If you are considering bringing on a new associate, they should be checked for anything you would check any employee for, plus their professional history.
Make sure to check if they have ever had their license suspended. Also check for prior mal-practice suits, and if any have come up, investigate them. The two questions you need to ask yourself when you hire an associate are,
1. Does this doctor consistently do work that meet the standard of care?
2. Are you comfortable stamping –your- name on their work?
Because like it or not any mess-ups they have are falling directly at your feet.
Partners, Directors, and C-suite:
Whether you are considering taking on a new partner, hiring a program director, or bringing on a C-suite member like a chief financial officer to take some of the weight off your administrative duties, you really need to know these people. Maybe you already have known them for years, and know everything about them, maybe you don’t. If you do, still running the perfunctory checks are important to show due diligence, if issues arise in the future. But if you don’t know these people in great detail, or think you may not, you need to thoroughly check them out.
CFOs have access to all your income, and likely much of your investments. Partners don’t just drop problems at your practices feet, they define your practice. So, these people should be vetted completely. Criminal background, digital footprint scrub, military discharge status if applicable, license revocations, bankruptcies, major debts, foreclosures, and other reputational hazards should be checked for.
Some Final Notes:
Doing your due diligence is not only important to avoid issues, it will also help protect you from negligence claims when things do go wrong. Negligent hiring and retention can cost you your practice, and it is completely avoidable.
Finally, nobody is perfect, if you dig deep enough you will find something every employee, partner, or contractor has messed up. Doing your due diligence does not mean you have to only pick absolutely perfect candidates, but it does mean you will be an informed employer. You will be able to make well-reasoned decisions on who you hire and who you keep around.
About the Author: Francis Beifuss spent over a decade in military special operations, conducting missions related to national security. He is the founder and CEO of Jarl Security; and is a currently a JD candidate at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and member of their Review.
Additional Resources and Links:
Ali Oromchian, JD, LLM, Dentistry Today, How Lawsuits Can Damage Your Dental Practice, (Aug. 30, 2018)How Lawsuits Can Damage Your Dental Practice – Dentistry Today. (4 minute read)
HG Legal Resources, What is Negligent Hiring and Retention? (Last Checked Nov. 12, 2022) What is Negligent Hiring and Retention? – HG.org (4 minute read)
BILL ESTEP, Lexington Herold Leader, Office manager ordered to serve 30 days in jail, pay $208K restitution in KY tax case, (Oct. 25, 2022)Kentucky office manager must pay $208,000 in tax case | Lexington Herald Leader (2 minute read)
ADA et al., Dental Workforce Shortages: Data to Navigate Today’s Labor Market, (Oct. 2022) Dental workforce shortages: Data to Navigate Today’s Labor Market (ada.org)
We hope you enjoyed this guest blog post from Francis at Jarl Security. If you need to hire, head to DirectDental and post your job today. Once you hire, head to Jarl Security for the best background checks in the industry.