Posted in drug screening, employee drug screening, pre-employment screening
It makes sense that healthcare facilities would want their employees to be healthy, considering that their job is to dole out advice and care to keep others healthy. But do hospitals and health systems have the right to include smoking bans in their corporate hiring policy? Or can banning cigarettes and other forms of tobacco be considered a form of discrimination?
In 2007, a clinic in Ohio began refusing to hire employees that utilized tobacco products. Since then, between 50 and 60 percent of health care clinics have instated similar anti-smoking policies, which may include nicotine testing in addition to any pre-employment drug tests. Insurance group Humana began utilizing tobacco tests during the hiring process back in 2011.
However, some are calling these bans discrimination, including a few professors that have written an article in the June 2014 issue of the Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Their claims are based on research that claims banning tobacco usage may have a greater impact on those who are “lower-skilled.”
Dr. Thomas Huddle and Dr. Stefan Kertesz — both affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, which has its own anti-smoking policy — contributed to the assessment. Their article states “Smokers are only 18 percent of the adult population in the United States, but they make up 26.1 percent of those with incomes less than $35,000/year and 25.5 percent of those without a high school diploma.”
The report continues that among medical school students, it is “likely to be poorer individuals” and minorities who will be barred from receiving jobs on the basis of anti-tobacco restrictions.
Meanwhile, UAB’s Health System CEO William Ferniany says that out of every 1,000 applicants at UAB Hospital, less than 2 percent of them fail nicotine tests.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not currently protect against tobacco users. The EEOC only protects against discrimination in cases of age, race, gender, religion, disability, national origin, pregnancy and cases of harassment.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, employee drug screening, prescription drugs
California doctors may find new restrictions in place to prevent potential drug abuse, if a new bill passes. Supporters hope that the bill will prevent doctors from recklessly prescribing painkillers to addicts, and ensure that doctors are not under the influence themselves when practicing.
The bill, called the Troy and Alana Pack Act, has already garnered 830,000 signatures, enough to put it before the general population. The bill was named for bill sponsor Bob Pack’s children after they died in a car crash at the hands of a driver who had been under the influence of narcotic painkillers.
If passed, the ballot measure would require doctors to undergo random drug tests, and would require them to look each patient up in a database before prescribing drugs, in order to make sure the patient doesn’t have a history of prescription abuse. It would also raise the maximum $250,000 “pain and suffering” payout that is currently enforced for medical malpractice.
“If you lose a child because of medical negligence, the law says that child’s life is worth $250,000,” said Brian Kapitack, who works for the Consumer Attorneys of California.
Many doctors and hospitals oppose this bill, on the grounds that it is unnecessary. However, a Consumer Watchdog representative says that 18 percent of doctors will have a substance abuse problem at some point during their careers.
California residents will have the opportunity to vote on the Troy and Alana Pack Act in the November elections.
Posted in drug screening
Because marijuana use can turn up on drug tests, some have turned to the use of a synthetic version of the drug in order to keep usage under wraps. The synthetic version of the drug, which is called “Spice,” utilizes different chemical compounds than marijuana, but has a similar effect on the brain as non-synthetic cannabis. It is also harder for drug tests to detect. Two researchers at the Air Force Academy hope to change that.
Air Force Academy professor Dr. Timm Knoerzer and senior cadet Jacob Krimbill have been working to create a method of detecting Spice, by re-creating the body’s metabolic processes and determining what the drug’s chemical compounds would look like after absorption. To do this, the two had to “boil down” Spice into its purest form and use laboratory space to re-create the effects of human bodily systems.
“It’s like chemical Legos,” said Knoerzer, who has a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry.
Airmen are more likely to use the synthetic version to prevent drug tests from turning up positive. If Knoerzer and Krimbill succeed in their efforts, drug tests will be able to determine the presence of Spice in the body, even weeks after the fact. Their research may also lead to more knowledge of how chemistry can work in unison with the body.
The two continue to work on research, subjecting their samples to a variety of tests to ensure they’re heading in the right direction. The Air Force Academy’s student-run research work is a point of pride for the campus, and many similar research projects have received federal funding.
Posted in drug screening, drugs in the workplace
Good news for employers: a study conducted by Quest Diagnostics has shown that illegal drug usage has decreased among employees over the past several years. The bad news is that, alternatively, there has been a rise in prescription drug usage, whether or not the drug has actually been prescribed to a particular patient.
Drug-testing laboratory Quest Diagnostics has been reviewing urine tests that were collected over the past 26 years.
The study showed that in 1988, the percentage of employees who failed drug tests for using illegal drugs was 13.6 percent, whereas only 3.5 percent of drug tests turned up illegal substances in 2012. In addition to urine tests, labs are now able to test saliva and hair follicles, to reduce the chances of employees tampering with test substances.
Meanwhile, prescription amphetamine, opiate and painkiller use has increased since 2002, with Vicodin’s usage increasing a whopping 172 percent, and other prescription usage increasing by 70 to 100 percent. While these prescriptions test positive on drug tests, it is not possible to tell just from the tests whether or not an employee is abusing the drug illegally, or if he or she has a valid prescription for the substance. Lab workers must go back through tests and mark them as negative if the employee has a current prescription for the medication. More than half of such tests are considered “false positives” due to being prescribed the medication.
Of course, even if an employee is using a prescription legally, such as taking prescribed painkillers after a work accident, the presence of the drug in the employee’s bloodstream can still affect their ability to perform their jobs. Managers should be aware of their employees’ behavior, and make note of unusual activities, as some prescription drugs can cause dizziness, trouble operating motor vehicles, and other potentially dangerous behavior.
The drug-testing waters are even muddier now that some states, such as Colorado, have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Marijuana use still turns up on drug tests, and some occupations prohibit its use even in states where it is legal, for the safety of citizens or other workers. Employers and courts will need to determine if and how to deal with employees who utilize marijuana recreationally, when workplace drug tests turn up positive.
Posted in drug screening, drug tests
The Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Pharmacy in Northern Ireland has developed a new technology that may make drug testing easier, safer and less painful than current blood tests. The university is testing a sticky, plaster-like patch that utilizes tiny, polymer microneedles to test for drugs in the body’s interstitial fluid. Currently, drug tests can be performed by testing the urine, blood, hair, or saliva, though not all methods are equally effective.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is funding the research that award-winning researcher Dr. Ryan Donnelly is conducting. Dr. Connelly says the rough patches — which contain a “forest” of tiny needles — are potentially a safer and less painful means of conducting drug tests.
“Compared with drawing blood, our patches can get their samples in a minimally invasive way,” said Dr. Donnelly. “And it’s far safer than using a conventional needle. These microneedles, once they have been used, become softened, so that there’s no danger of dirty needles transferring infection to another patient, or one of the healthcare workers.”
The patch would be a big step in protecting healthcare providers as well, as millions of health workers are affected each year by needle injuries and infections.
The interstitial fluid, which is the fluid between the body’s cells, contains the same compounds that would be found in the blood, if drugs were present in the bloodstream, so screening processes would be just as effective with the patch as in traditional blood tests.
The patch technology was originally intended to inject vaccines into the skin, and has also been shown to be able to absorb specific fluids from the skin and tissue. Early tests show that it picks up on drug compounds, and researchers are working to expand the detectable concentration of those substances.
Posted in drug and alcohol testing, drug screening, drug testing
With drug use higher than it has been in years past, drug screening for jobs is definitely an important step in the hiring process. There are some employers out there that don’t take part in drug testing because they’re wary of using resources for it’s implementation, but that’s most certainly a mistake.
There are a variety of reasons that employers should never forego this vital step in the process, and here are a few key ones to keep in mind:
Safety in the workplace
Using drugs can alter your ability to do certain tasks safely. Did you know that more than 50% of work related injuries are drug related?
Since using drugs can cause you to be less cautious with the activities that you do, it makes sense that employers would want to keep drug users out of their workplace. Drug screening prior to employment is the best way to do this.
Many times, people that use drugs struggle with productivity. When you have a drug free workplace, you’ll promote higher productivity, more professionalism, and an overall better atmosphere. It also goes back to the safety issues, because fewer accidents in the workplace leads to more productivity.
Finally, consider the average drug user. Most people would agree that drug users are impulsive, and if they are addicted then it can be that much worse. For employers, this holds particular significance to absenteeism.
Absenteeism costs the company money, productivity and potentially clients.
When you’re ready to begin drug screening for jobs in your company, contact us. We can help you from start to finish, and we can also answer any questions that you may have about why drug testing is so necessary.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, employee drug screening
Employment drug testing is definitely a process companies should be considering when planning their hiring strategy, regardless of industry or job role. After all, according to the US Department of Labor, the economy can lose up to $246 billion each year due to substance abuse. Don’t let your company become a statistic.
If you understand the necessities of a drug screening program already and are planning on starting employment drug testing in your workplace, there are several factors that you should keep in mind as you begin to implement:
Know state laws and regulations
First and foremost, you will need to read up on your state laws and regulations when it comes to employment drug testing and analysis. These laws will vary greatly from one state to the next, and the laws can also change very frequently. A mistake here can cost you more than just a slip up during the hiring process, but could plague your business with lawsuits and litigation.
Implement a company-wide policy
Once you are aware of the laws and regulations set forth by your state, you will want to come up with a drug testing policy for your workplace. It is really important for you to define the terms clearly in your policy so that you can avoid problems down the road – taking the time to be thorough now will pay dividends in the long run.
Ensure legal compliance
It may be a good idea for you to hire an attorney to take a look at your new employment drug testing policy. When looking for an attorney, choose one that specializes in employment law, they’ll be able to review the policy and let you know if anything needs to be changed.
Adhere to your policy strictly
One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to employment drug testing is adhering to your policy strictly. As touched on previously, if your policy is unclear or if you waver from it at all, you could open yourself up to a discrimination lawsuit. .
With so many hurdles and loopholes, it’s always a good idea to bring in a professional screening company to help guide you. If you’re ready to implement a new employment drug testing and analysis program in your workplace, contact us today. We can help you to establish a drug-free workplace!
Posted in drug screening, drug testing
A federal court in Maryland ruled recently that the state’s drug and alcohol testing statute prohibits private employers from conducting breath alcohol tests on its employees.
As employees of Vector Security, Inc., Wendell Whye and William Trout underwent periodic, random breath alcohol testing, pursuant to the Company’s substance abuse policy. The tests, which were administered by third-party testing provider Concentra Health Services, Inc., required Plaintiffs “breathe deeply for several minutes [into a breath testing device] so as to produce alveolar or ‘deep lung’ breath for chemical analysis.” The breath samples were not preserved and, in the event of a positive test result, could not be later retested for accuracy.
While neither employee tested positive for alcohol, nor did Vector ever take disciplinary action against them based on test results, Whye and Trout filed suit against Concentra on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, alleging the breath alcohol tests were illegal under Maryland law. Conceding that Maryland’s testing statute does not provide a private right of action, the Plaintiffs alleged common law claims for invasion of privacy and fraud.
Full Story: Federal court holds breath testing for alcohol is illegal in Maryland
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy
When it comes to the safety of your workplace and the employees that work with you, it’s vital to have a drug testing program in place. Judging by the fact that there are 23.9 million Americans that currently use drugs, there’s simply no room for risk.
If you’re considering starting a drug testing program at your workplace, you should be aware of the fact that there are a few key mistakes that many employers make.
Fundamentally, you must follow certain guidelines to ensure that everything is done legally. And with that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid:
Mistake #1 – Not having a formal policy
Many employers want to implement drug testing, but they fail to ensure that they have a written policy in effect that is in compliance with state laws and regulations. There are many laws and regulations that have been put into effect by local, state and federal government, so have your policy written and double checked to ensure compliance.
Mistake #2 – Not having a DER
You should have a trained designated employer representative, or DER, to administer your drug testing program. Or a professional screening service. Many times, employers jump the gun and start drug testing without first considering the fact that they need to train and authorize a specified employee to handle the drug testing program.
By mandating a training course for your designated employer representative and talking with a screening firm, you can avoid any issues that may arise.
Mistake #3 – Forgetting about confidentiality
Drug testing requires a certain level of confidentiality, and employers need to ensure never to breach this confidentiality for any reason. It would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
If an employee fails a drug test, it’s not information that can be shared with everyone in the workplace. There are confidentiality laws and regulations in effect for a reason, and employers must follow them.
As you can see, there are various mistakes that can occur with a drug testing program, especially if your company has never required drug testing in the past. Don’t just jump straight into it without first being aware of all of the laws and regulations.
The best way to make sure you stay on track? Get in touch with a professional screening company. The experience, credibility and knowledge that they can bring to the table will ensure you avoid any mistakes, or worse – a lawsuit. Contact us today for more information.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, employee drug screening
There are various different types of drug testing options and services available, but the 9-panel drug test is one of the more comprehensive and well known options. When conducting a drug test, some of the other tests that will only check for a few different types of drugs, and – of course – you want to be as thorough as possible.
With the newest reports showing that 23.9 million Americans use drugs, there is clearly a growing need for drug testing – and that’s where we can help.
How the 9-panel drug test works
Most 9-panel drug tests are urine analysis kits that let you see whether someone has drugs in their system or not. A urinalysis is one of the best ways to conduct a drug screen, because it’s usually very accurate. Some of the other testing methods, such as the cheek swab, are simply not as reliable
Additionally, most of the drug urinalysis tests will have simple, easy to read results and you can also send them off to a laboratory for further analysis.
Types of drugs tested
A 9-panel drug test tests for the following types of drugs:
These are all common types of drugs that are abused regularly.
Why consider a 9-panel drug test on your employees?
There are a variety of reasons that you should consider requesting employees at your workplace participate in a 9-panel drug test. First and foremost, you will find that people abuse a wide range of drugs. While marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the US, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test for other drugs. When it comes down to it, this test really covers all of your bases.
And as mentioned previously, drug use is currently a huge issue in America, and no employer should risk the consequences of making a bad hire.
If you’re looking for further assistance or have any questions, contact us today. We can help you with all of your drug testing needs. Our turnaround times are among the best in the industry, and we offer competitive prices that will meet your budgeting needs.
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