Drug testing occurs in hospitals every day for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a member of the hospital staff will conduct a drug screening to prevent misdiagnosis or adverse drug reactions. Sometimes the hospital will require its employees to undergo drug testing after an accident, due to reasonable suspicion, or randomly. Sometimes a job applicant to the hospital will undergo a drug test prior to employment. In addition, many hospitals offer drug testing services to employers to secure workers’ compensation business following a workplace accident. To learn more about drug testing in hospitals, please scroll down.
Drug Testing in Hospitals
Sometimes hospitals will run drug tests on patients for medical purposes (source). If a person enters the emergency room with symptoms that could point to drug use or a serious medical condition, a drug test may be used to rule out a possible cause of those symptoms. If a patient complains of chest pain, for example, it could be a heart-attack symptom, a side-effect of cocaine use, or a symptom of another condition altogether. If the doctor prescribes beta-blockers, assuming the issue is a heart attack, the chest pain could escalate if it was actually caused by cocaine use (source).
In some cases, drug tests are performed without the consent of the patient, posing ethical and legal concerns (source). However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act does limit whether a doctor can release medical information to third parties without the patient’s permission.
Occupational Medicine Applications
Drug testing in hospitals also occurs for occupational medicine applications. First, it is used on employees of the hospital to maintain a drug-free workplace. Many hospitals institute drug-free workplace policies and test employees prior to employment, after an accident, when a reasonable suspicion of drug use exists, and/or randomly.
In addition, employers may work with a hospital, establishing a relationship in which the hospital provides drug-testing services, to test the employer’s employees for drug use. This can occur in the following applications:
- Reasonable Suspicion
Post-accident drug testing typically occurs when patients come to occupational medicine clinics following an accident at work. In addition, urgent care clinics and emergency rooms may conduct emergency post-accident drug testing on the hospital’s behalf for client companies and organizations.
Drug testing in hospitals is useful for employers in regard to workers’ compensation and reductions offered to the employer if the employee tests positive for drugs or alcohol. Some states’ workers’ compensation programs offer discounts for post-accident testing if the employer has a drug-free workplace policy and complies with the regulations of the state’s statute. Employers often wish to test employees injured at work for drugs due to this incentive. In addition, some states require post-accident drug testing as a part of their workers’ compensation program.
Employers must have a legitimate reason to drug test employees; they may not conduct blanket drug testing, as this violates OSHA’s electronic record-keeping rule. Drug testing required by workers’ compensation policies is okay, however. When questioned about the matter, OSHA responded, “If an employer conducts drug testing to comply with the requirements of a state or federal law or regulation, the employer’s motive would not be retaliatory and the final rule would not prohibit such testing. This is doubly true because Section 4(b)(4) of the Act prohibits OSHA from superseding or affecting workers’ compensation laws. 29 U.S.C. 653(b)(4).”
Tomo Drug Testing
Many hospitals wish to offer drug testing to employers as an added benefit, since it attracts workers’ compensation business, but they lack the time and resources required to provide a quality service. Because performing drug tests is not the primary function of their staff, hospitals are often unable to retain properly trained testing staff. In addition, hospitals often do not have the ability to perform breath alcohol tests (BACs) because they lack the devices and trained staff. Instead of investing their own time and workforce to the task, they might choose to work with a company like Tomo.
At Tomo Drug Testing, we provide well-trained, professional collectors that can be embedded within the hospital environment as well as staff available for 24-hour coverage. If your organization would like to implement post-accident drug testing, contact Tomo today. Based in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Missouri, Tomo Drug Testing offers customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo to be available anytime, anywhere. To learn more, please contact us today.