Healthcare Worker Drug Testing Trends for 2014

Healthcare Worker Drug Testing Trends for 2014
Senior Director of Marketing

While we were happy to take part in the observance of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, the truth is, we pursue patient safety every single day at PreCheck. Although there are opposing views on the topic of healthcare worker drug testing, I think this is the perfect time to address this issue due to recent events. As I discussed in our article, “7 Key Healthcare Background Screening and Employment Qualification Trends in 2014”, a Johns Hopkins Medicine study published last year calls for mandatory drug testing for physicians. The American Nurses Association, by contrast, opposes random drug testing but supports drug testing when there is reasonable suspicion.

The Imminent Mandate: New Hampshire’s Healthcare Worker Drug Testing Bill

New Hampshire may become the first state in America to mandate the widespread drug testing of healthcare workers, says Roger S. Kaplan, attorney and shareholder at the Long Island office of Jackson Lewis P.C. The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed an act calling for drug-free workplaces for licensed healthcare facilities and providers on January 22, 2014. While random drug testing would have been required in the original version of House Bill 597-FN, it was modified to require, at minimum, drug testing in cases where reasonable suspicion exists. The proposed law, however, does not define what qualifies as “reasonable suspicion”. While the bill may not require pre-employment drug testing, it does echo the American Nurses Association’s recommendations under reasonable suspicion. It will be interesting to see the implementation of this law. Given the recent case of a radiology technician with substance-abuse problems who infected and endangered patients with Hepatitis C, will other states follow New Hampshire’s lead?

Proposed California Ballot Measure Calls for Physician Drug Testing

The topic of physician drug testing has received much attention in recent months. According to an article published in January 2014 for The Sacramento Bee, the California Medical Board estimates that 18 percent of doctors have a drug or alcohol problem during their careers. That’s why lawyers and consumer groups in the Golden State are getting signatures for the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, which would require hospitals to conduct random drug and alcohol testing as well as after an unexpected death or adverse event occurs. The measure would also require doctors to report colleagues who appear to be impaired by drugs or alcohol while on duty and would require hospitals to report any verified positive results to the California Medical Board. Additionally, the bill would also require doctors who test positive as well as those who refuse to such testing to be temporarily suspended from practicing medicine until an investigation is completed.

Pre-Employment, Random, or Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing: Which is Right for You?

While New Hampshire’s bill may not mandate random drug testing, it was originally included in the proposed legislation. California’s Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, by contrast, does call for the random drug testing of physicians. Pre-employment drug testing may not be a pending mandate, but it is not unheard of in the industry. Healthcare organizations like Adventist HealthCare, for example, require “all new hires [to] undergo pre-employment drug testing.” Which type of program, if any, do you have at your facility? Given the recent proposed legislation, is now an opportune time to review your organization’s drug screening policy? While it may not be a mandate in your state, researchers and legislators agree that a drug testing program can help protect patients from severe injuries and even death.

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