Health Workers,
Employee Medical Testing and Training Requirements.

This guide will help you navigate employment requirements and recommendations for hiring health workers in Illinois, such as:

  • Medical exams (e.g., TB tests, physical, chest x-rays, etc.)
  • CPR, AED, BLS and ACLS certification
  • Fingerprinting and background checks
  • Drug testing

Let’s begin!

Are health workers required to have a medical exam before being hired?

The Illinois Medical Practice Act requires all health workers to take part in a medical exam, which is a general term that encapsulates various types of health tests. The most common types of medical exams for health workers are:

  • TB test
  • physical examination
  • Vision and hearing

To learn about the different types of medical exams, keep reading!

Why health workers should take TB tests

The Illinois Administrative Code states that employees should include any history of exposure to, or treatment for, tuberculosis, as well as other infectious diseases.  Health workers have a higher risk of contracting TB compared to other types of occupations due to their frequent contact with various patients.  For this reason alone, not only are health workers required by law to be tested for TB, but you can also have your health workers take TB tests whenever they report symptoms of the disease, or after they’ve had contact with patients or co-workers who tested positive for TB.  If your health worker tests positive for TB, they will most likely need a Chest X-Ray as well.

What is a physical examination?

A physical exam, also known as a wellness check, is generally composed of the following tests:

  • Evaluation of patient’s medical history
  • Check weight
  • Check blood pressure
  • Check temperature
  • EKG or ECG (electrocardiogram), which records the electrical signal from the heart to check for different heart conditions
  • Check your ears, nose, lungs, throat, and eyes.

Remember that you can only request your employees to undergo a physical exam and other medical tests after you’ve offered them employment. Meaning, you cannot use medical exams as part of the pre-employment process. Doing so would be a violation of federal laws.

Why should new employees get a physical exam?

The physical exam should have full details that indicate the employee is free of disease to perform their duties and that they don’t have any health conditions that would create a hazard for themselves, fellow employees or patients.

Who pays for medical exams like TB tests and physicals?

The Medical Examination of Employees Act states that “no employer shall require any employee or applicant for employment to pay the cost of a medical examination or the cost of furnishing any records of such.”

Do health workers need to submit fingerprinting for employment?

The Medical Practice Act requires licensed health workers to submit to the following:

  • Criminal history records background check
  • Fingerprints submitted to the Illinois State Police in an electronic format

Your employee’s fingerprints will then be checked against the Illinois State Police and FBI criminal history record databases.  The Illinois State Police will charge the applicant a fee for conducting the criminal history records check. Your employee may also have to pay a separate fingerprinting fee to the police department or an approved vendor.

The benefits of fingerprinting and background checks

Fingerprinting and background checks for your new employees are beneficial for your medical facility.

  • Patients will feel safer and more secure during their visits when you ensure that your health professionals are properly screened.
  • Live Scan fingerprinting protects healthcare professionals from other people stealing and using their identities.
  • Live Scan fingerprinting can be seamlessly integrated with existing healthcare systems, which makes the process more streamlined and efficient.
Is drug testing required in Illinois for health workers?

Illinois does not require drug testing for doctors, nurses, and other health workers.  However, management has the choice to implement drug testing as part of your hiring policy. You can also make drug testing of current medical staff recurring and random.

Why you should require drug testing for health workers

Remember, the lives of patients are in the hands of health workers. Therefore, having a clear sober mind and sound judgment is of the utmost importance.  Let’s take a look at some benefits of drug testing, whether as part of the hiring process or as a recurring program after they’re hired.

  • Illicit drugs can impair one’s physical and mental capabilities.
  • Drugs can impair one’s judgment and decision-making.
  • Reduces the chance of on-the-job accidents and injuries.
  • Drug testing provides both employers and employees with the ability to make the workplace a more productive environment.
  • Reduces absenteeism from your staff.
  • Reduce employee turnover rates.
  • Protect your company from lawsuits and liabilities.
Are CPR and BLS certifications required for health workers in Illinois?

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and BLS (Basic Life Support) certification requirements can vary between various professional licensing boards and company policies.  Having said that, it is typically required or highly-recommended that all health workers are trained in at least CPR techniques, as well as know how to operate an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).  In fact, the Illinois Administrative Code says that a medical facility should have at least one staff member on duty at all times who has successfully completed CPR training.

What’s the difference between CPR and BLS?

BLS and CPR courses cover the same fundamentals, but BLS certification programs cover a few more advanced techniques.  Online CPR, AED, and First Aid courses are accepted in Illinois, but a hands-on skills test may be required by the state to maintain employment. CPR/BLS courses for license renewals are dependent on your employee’s job role. For instance, one medical profession may not be required to take CPR refresher courses to renew their license, while others are.

Why are CPR/BLS courses required?

It is only natural that healthcare employees and other staff members at a medical facility know basic CPR or BLS procedures. After all, your employees play a critical role in the health and safety of patients within your facilities.  Enrolling and completing CPR, AED and/or First Aid courses benefit those around you.

Are Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) courses required?

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is not required by Illinois occupational codes. Neither is Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). However, medical licensing boards may require the completion of ACLS and or PALS certification to gain or renew a doctor’s license.

What’s the difference between ACLS and BLS?

BLS and ACLS are different in scope as well as complexity.  BLS focuses on basic life-saving techniques, such as CPR and proper use of AED.  ACLS delves deeper into advanced cardiovascular life support, including advanced airway management, pharmacology, and complex resuscitation algorithms. Typically, physicians are required to obtain an ACLS certification, whereas nurses and non-physician health workers can simply take BLS or CPR courses.

Your next steps

Now that you’re well-versed in the pre-employment medical exam, fingerprinting and drug testing requirements in Illinois, the next step is to help your new health workers to schedule appointments for those tests.  Wellnessmart allows employers such as yourself to order the necessary tests, receive and store their results, and get a single consolidated billing – all at wellnessmart.com.

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