Here’s a scary statistic: 10–15% of physicians will have an addiction to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime, compared to just 9% of the general population. Be it easy access to narcotics, long-hours, or stressful working conditions – drug testing in the healthcare industry is a must – and not just for doctors. 14% to 20% of registered nurses in the US may have a problem with dependence or abuse of drugs and/or alcohol.
Why We Test
One of the most basic reasons for drug testing is deterring drug use. The increased risk of abuse by medical professionals, coupled with the potential for catastrophic loss, equals many more reasons for testing in the healthcare field:
- Protection of patients and co-workers
- Shield the hospital, practice, or clinic from litigation
- Promote positive public relations
When We Test
While many industries drug test prior to hiring a new employee or at random intervals, healthcare facilities must have policies in place dictating testing under additional circumstances:
- Reasonable suspicion of use
- After an employee accident
- As an assurance that all employees are fit for duty
Why Not Urinalysis
Urine drug testing has been used since 1971, and unlike most scientific processes, hasn’t evolved in nearly 50 years. In the Vietnam War era, urinalysis was a reliable way to determine if someone had ingested drugs; in the 21st Century…not so much. In today’s world, a simple Google search for, “how to beat a drug test” reveals a myriad of herbs, powders, pills, and home remedies that can actually trigger a false negative result.
And if all else fails, borrow a clean sample from a pal or purchase synthetic urine online.
Fortunately, other drug testing methods have evolved over the past half-century giving the healthcare industry some reliable alternatives to urine. Testing strands of hair increases the drug detection window for several months, as opposed to roughly 72-hours since last ingestion when using urine. Additionally, testing hair can confirm abstinence in prior abusers, allowing employees the option of entering recovery without losing their jobs. Testing saliva is another viable alternative to urine as it’s easy to collect and very difficult to adulterate.
How Global HR Research Can Help
GHRR provides best of breed background screening including drug testing and fingerprinting. We currently work with over 1,000 healthcare facilities and can build a unified automated screening system that simplifies the ordering, management and reporting on all your screening and testing activities.
Leveraging our in-house healthcare compliance and legal teams you can integrate screening and testing into your HR system to make it easier on your staff and improve your clients’ experience.
Looking for more information? Check out our webinar on this topic. Or, contact our team.