In the past few years, we have seen an increase in the amount of pre-employment drug screens being required of applicants for positions in nursing homes, hospitals, and state facilities.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal on November 18, 2013, abuse of prescription drugs is a growing worry of employers. Quest Diagnostics, Inc. recently released an analysis of millions of drug tests which shows that positive tests for amphetamines, which includes prescription drugs such as Adderall more than doubled between 2002 and last year. Methamphetamine rates fell after 2005, amid a government crackdown, but recently have begun to rise again.
Positive tests for painkillers, Vicodin and Oxycontin rose 72% "even when used with a prescription, these drugs can have an impact on workplace safety" said Barry Sample, Director of Drug Testing Technology for Quest.
We recently represented a nurse who tested positive on a pre-employment drug test at a regional hospital. The nurse admitted to recreational use of marijuana. The State Board of Nursing, through the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA), filed an Order to Show Cause against a nurse seeking to suspend the nurse's license for her marijuana use. The nurse was ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam with a doctor. We prepared the nurse for the exam and produced the appropriate medical records. We were able to show the doctor that the nurse did not a have a substance abuse problem. We were able to persuade the BPOA to withdraw the Order to Show Cause without any sanctions against the nurse.
All healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, should be aware that a pre-employment drug screen that is positive for a substance which the applicant does not have a prescription for will most certainly lead to that applicant being reported to the State Licensing Board. If this happens, the licensing board will typically seek some type of sanction against the applicant. All healthcare workers should expect a pre-employment drug screen from a potential employers. Additionally, any questions you answer as part of a pre-employment interview may be reported to the licensing board.