What is Primary Source Verification

- October 06, 2015 -

Primary source verification is a crucial step in the credentialing process. It helps the healthcare facility maintain a skilled and qualified medical staff.

Health care organizations are under legal obligation to ensure that their medical staff is skilled and qualified to provide health care. The last mistake you want to make as a credential manager or facility owner is letting individuals with fake credentials slide into your system. The consequences are highly sensitive and can cost the facility its accreditation.

All physicians must undergo an intensive credentialing process before they are granted privileges to practice at a facility. As the credential manager, you manage and organize the flow of credentialing information in preparation for the accreditation survey. You are also responsible for verifying that the documents are accurate through a highly important process called Primary Source Verification.

Primary Source Verification requires credential files to be verified directly by the original source that provided the credential. For example, a medical school is the primary source for education credentials. The documented proof of verification helps eliminate fraudulent documents and information from non-primary sources. It is a rigorous part of the workflow crucial for maintaining a staff that is equipped with the appropriate skills and qualifications.

In the following sections, we’ll be exploring what is or isn't considered a primary source. 


What is considered a primary source?

The originating source of the credential document. For example, the primary source of your education credentials is not your diploma, but your medical school.  

Credential Primary Source
State Medical License Issuing State Licensing Board
DEA License Drug Enforcement Agency
Education Medical schools
Postgraduate Training Residency and predoctoral programs
Board Certification Issuing board
Fluoroscopy (if required) American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
Current Competence Peers who are acquainted with the physician’s performance

- A source or organization that is designated by the original source as its agent in providing information to verify credentials.

Some primary sources work in contract with organizations to respond to requests for verification information. These qualified sources include:


What doesn’t count as primary source verification?

You may never accept any form of verifying document from the physician whose credentials are being verified. It is critical to the verification process that no third party, unless officially approved by the accreditation organization, is involved.

The following list contains items that do not qualified as primary source verification:

  • Pictures of documents, certificates, and diplomas
  • Statements by CVO's about completing the verification
  • Any information provided by the physician
  • A professor at medical school

Primary source verification is an aggressive and high-touch process, but it helps prevent medical negligence for the safety of your patients. When your workflow doesn't have a software that supports verifications like Silversheet does, you must ensure that all credentials are current and accurate.