For many employers, navigating employee drug screening can be challenging. How they are performed, what drugs are tested, reading drug test results, etc? There are many steps and policies employers need to follow to ensure fair hiring practices. Moreover, employers must remain compliant with state and federal drug screening laws, as well as the company’s own written drug policy. This policy applies to every kind of employee in every field. Nurses are also required to take the drug screening test before getting a job or position but what exactly is a pre-employment drug test and what could be the consequences of nurses failing it?
What is a pre-employment drug test?
Investment in pre-employment drug testing can help reduce costs because employers spend around $740 billion annually in direct medical costs, lost productivity, absenteeism, increase health care costs, and more due to drug use.
A pre-employment drug test is used to determine if a prospective hire uses illicit substances or abuses prescription medication. It may also be used for employees who are returning to work after an injury or absence, at which time it may be referred to as a pre-placement drug test. It is common for employers to require a job candidate to complete a pre-employment drug test, and a job offer may be contingent upon the applicant’s ability to pass. These drug tests typically screen for the use of the following illegal drugs (but can test for others if needed).
- Methamphetamines (meth, speed, crank, ecstasy)
- THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash)
- Cocaine (coke, crack)
- Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
- Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)
Workplace safety is the most important thing for a company and conducting a pre-employment drug test can reduce the risks associated with drug misuse. For occupations that employees in safety-sensitive environments like health care centers such as nurses and doctors, pre-employment drug testing is critical, as it can help reduce the number of costly worker’s compensation claims involving drug or alcohol use.
Pre-employment drug testing for nurses:
Whether you are still in nursing school, just graduated from nursing school, or seeking new employment as a nurse you will be likely asked to take a drug test as part of the pre-employment rules of a company or healthcare center. Drug testing can also be asked to be taken even after being employed. Some nurses are taking illicit drugs but some nurses who are not taking any such drugs intentionally still fail the test. One of the main reasons for the false positives on a drug test, when the nurse hasn’t taken any such drugs, is the intake of prescribed drugs that may contain prohibited drugs as part of their formula. For example, those medicines contain a small amount of methamphetamine. So if a nurse is taking those medicines without any reason or prescription, they could also be subjected to penalties.
What happens after a nurse fails the drug testing?
When a nurse fails a pre-employment drug testing, their employment application is usually rejected or held for a particular period of time. And if a nurse during their employment fails a drug testing, they are reported to their country’s or city’s board of registered nurses by their employer. Although the use of recreational marijuana has been legalized in some countries, many organizations can still fire you even on prescribed marijuana use. In such situations, you should contact an attorney immediately. After the board receives a notice of a failed drug testing of a nurse, several steps are taken like revoking the nurse’s license or suspending them from their duties. These situations can also occur despite the presence of prescriptions or unintentionally being in contact with such drugs.
What if the nurse is a drug addict or uses drugs intentionally?
If a nurse has a legitimate problem with drugs or alcohol, the Board may ask the nurse to attend a rehabilitation center or treatment facility. Some hospitals may even require you to report your failed drug test to the Intervention Project for nurses personally and in that case, you should consult an attorney first. But make sure you are well aware of the hospital’s policies, rules, and regulations. Intervention Project for Nurses or IPN is basically a team of members consisting of a psychiatrist, psychologists, and addictionologist who analyze and determine the testing and decide whether the nurse can work safely again or not. By applying to the IPN, the nurses must have to agree to regular drug testing, meeting the psychiatrist, and other stuff to keep their license and duties.
But if the nurse fails to keep up with such requirements, they may get reported at the cost of their license being reported, and in some cases, they may also get a fine. It is necessary to have a good attorney by your side and have a strong case or just keep up with the requirements by IPN.
Can nurses get randomly drug tested?
There are many reasons why the hospital facility can randomly drug test a nurse. As a nurse, you don’t want drugs to impair your ability to think critically or to act quickly, because you will have other people’s lives in your hands. Nurses will be working with very powerful drugs that can be very addictive or dangerous so healthcare facilities want to ensure that their nursing staff isn’t going to be tempted to use the drugs themselves.
Drug testing may start long before you become a licensed nurse. Some nursing schools will require that you pass a drug test during your physical exam as part of the admission process. You will be working with a healthcare facility during your clinical rotations so they want to make sure that you aren’t taking any type of illegal or prohibited substances that could impair your abilities to perform the nursing duties. During the hiring process, nurses are also drug tested as a protocol of the healthcare facility, and even during the employment period, the nurse can randomly get drug tested.