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Who is liable for the licensure of health care agency staff?

Hospitals and other medical facilities have fluctuating staffing needs that make it difficult to rely solely on a roster of full- and part-time employees. Contracting with a staffing agency can help fill the gaps and ensure there are medical professionals available on call. According to the American Staffing Association, as much as 9 percent of all temporary work is available within the field of health care.

Placing medical professionals with clients requires extensive vetting and credentialing, though. It is the responsibility of the staffing agency to complete this process prior to sending any staff to a client, but upon discovery of an issue with a medical professional’s licensure, who is liable—and what will be done?

Patients can hold a medical facility liable

An issue with a staff member’s license might come up without any causal incident, but often the problem is not evident until another problem has unfolded. Once this happens, a medical facility might be held liable for the discrepancy. If, for example, a nurse who is contracted through an agency harms a patient while working, that patient might be able to pursue legal action against the medical facility and staffing agency.

Insurance may not cover agency staff’s errors

Nearly every hospital and other type of medical facility will have an insurance policy covering damages resulting from malpractice charges. You might be surprised to find, however, that your policy only extends to your facility’s own employees.

Discrepancies may be a legal issue

There are a number of issues that may arise from a medical professional’s licensure. If a discrepancy exists, it might be due to a lack of certification, but it might be due to more nefarious issues such as falsification or concealment of a suspension. In such cases, if the staff member’s misrepresentation remains hidden as they begin working, that professional may be both legally and criminally liable.