Mastering Drug Testing for Healthcare Professionals

  • March 15, 2024
  • Jessica McDonald
  • Approx. Read Time: 7 Minutes
4 Benefits of Drug Testing at Your Healthcare Organization

Drug testing in the healthcare industry is standard practice for many organizations, including hospitals, medical centers, laboratories, and physician offices. If your company doesn’t conduct pre-hire drug testing or ongoing drug screening, now is the time to consider adding this to your hiring and workforce management practices. 

However, drug testing for healthcare professionals requires creating a strict set of protocols that secure test integrity and increase test result accuracy. 

Here’s a look at key factors regarding drug testing in healthcare. 

    • Drug testing in the healthcare sector involves screening potential candidates or current employees to detect drug use in the last few days. 
    • It’s important for healthcare employers to evaluate their specific needs and industry standards when determining what types of legal and illegal drugs to test employees and new hires for. 
    • Pre-hire drug testing and ongoing monitoring can prevent dangerous work situations that could jeopardize the health and safety of your workers and patients. 
    • Just one workplace accident caused by an employee under the influence could risk your organization’s reputation and spur a potential lawsuit. 
    • Using a Third-Party Administrator, like PreCheck, can ensure the integrity and accuracy of your employment drug testing process and results. 

Drug testing is a common practice in hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing homes, laboratories, ambulatory services, and nearly all other medical organizations. There’s a good reason for this. 

Drug testing for healthcare professionals can protect organizations and ensure they’re hiring the best talent. This article explains how drug testing in healthcare works and why it’s a valuable tool in the recruitment and workforce management processes. 



Key Takeaways

Here are the key things you need to know about drug testing for healthcare professionals: 

        • Drug testing is the process of screening candidates and current employees for the use of legal and illegal drugs. 
        • The first step to creating an effective drug testing strategy is to identify the specific types of drugs your healthcare organization wants to screen. 
        • Employers can choose the specific type of drug method they want administered, such as urine, blood, saliva, or hair. 
        • Drug testing can protect your organization against liability due to errors and miscalculations made by an employee under the influence. 
        • A third-party administrator can ensure a safe and secure drug testing process that improves the accuracy of the test results. 


Table of Contents 

  1. What Is Drug Testing for Healthcare Professionals? 
  2. How Does Drug Testing Work? 
  3. 4 Benefits of Drug Testing at Your Healthcare Organization

What Is Drug Testing for Healthcare Professionals? 

Drug testing for healthcare professionals is the process of collecting and testing candidates’ or employees’ blood, urine, hair, or saliva for legal and illegal drugs. 

Employers typically conduct these tests as a condition of employment, as a random drug testing process, or after a workplace incident. Due to the importance of these tests, healthcare employers typically put stringent testing protocols in place or work with a professional Third-Party Administrator (TPA). 


Recommended Reading: Why Random Drug Testing Makes Sense for Healthcare Employers 


How Does Drug Testing Work? 

Drug testing for healthcare professionals is a straightforward process, but it does require stringent protocols to guarantee the safety, security, and accuracy of the process and results. 

As an employer, you must first determine what types of drugs you want to screen for. This likely depends on your specific company, industry, and professional standards. 

The good news is that drug testing in healthcare can screen for a wide range of illegal and legal drugs, including: 

    • Amphetamines 
    • Methamphetamines 
    • Cocaine 
    • Marijuana 
    • Opioids 
    • PCP 
    • Barbiturates 
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Propoxyphene
    • Methadone 
    • Fentanyl 
    • Ecstasy 
    • Oxycodone/Oxymorphone 
    • Hydrocodone/Hydromorphone 
    • Meperidine
    • Cotinine 

Many employers choose a drug panel option that most closely matches their needs. 


Screen smarter, hire safer. Get the right talent to drive your success. Speak to an expert.


Once you determine the types of drugs you want to screen for, you can choose the right testing method to use, such as: 


Urine Drug Testing 

Urinalysis is the most common type of drug testing option for healthcare employers. 

This type of drug screening offers numerous benefits, such as affordability, an easy-to-administer process, and accurate results.  


Oral Fluid (Saliva) 

While not the most common option, oral fluid drug testing is one of the most tamper-resistant tests available. 

It involves collecting the candidates' saliva and testing it for various types of drugs. This type of drug test can screen for drugs used within the previous 24 to 48 hours. 


Hair Testing 

Hair testing is the best drug screening option for detecting long-term drug use. 

It can screen for drugs used up to 90 days before testing. However, this testing option can be more expensive than other types. 


Instant/Rapid Testing 

Often referred to as Point of Care Testing (POCT), rapid drug tests provide employers with instant results. In fact, employers can receive test results in just a few minutes. 

It can screen for drugs used up to 72 hours before testing. A non-negative test result requires laboratory analysis and medical review, that could take up to 72 hours to complete. 


Blood Testing 

Due to its invasive testing procedures, blood testing is one of the least common drug screening options. This method also has a shorter detection timeframe. 


Once you have the parameters in place, your prospective candidates or current employees can schedule an appointment for testing. 

When working with a professional Third-Party Administrator like PreCheck, you can rest assured that all drug testing is completed in a safe, sterile, and secure environment by trained administrators following strict protocols. 

Once the testing specimen is collected, the chain of custody becomes extremely important. Without the right protocols to secure the chain of custody, it could jeopardize the integrity of the testing. 

At Precheck, we maintain a consistent and documented chain of custody from the point of contact until we deliver the final results.    


Recommended Reading: Your Must-Have Guide to Healthcare Background Check Compliance 


Drug Test Healthcare 1


4 Benefits of Drug Testing at Your Healthcare Organization

Here are the key benefits of testing healthcare professionals. 


Identifying Substance Use Disorder 

Identifying potential substance abuse issues in the workplace is one of the top reasons why drug testing in the healthcare industry is so important. 

When an employee comes to work under the influence of substances like drugs or alcohol, it puts the whole organization at risk. It also can lead to dangerous errors, miscalculations, and misjudgments that can negatively impact patient care and outcomes. 

Early detection of a drug abuse issue can prevent these incidents from happening, which can protect both patients and other employees. On a larger scale, it can help identify specific drug abuse issues within your organization. 


Help Identifying Commonly Abused Drugs in the Healthcare Industry 

Drug testing for medical professionals can shed light on substance abuse issues within the industry. These statistics can help your organization better prepare and identify these issues in the workplace. 

With this information, healthcare employers can provide support, such as substance abuse resources and access to mental health counselors, to their team to help avoid or overcome these issues. 

Most importantly, it can give industry leaders the information they need to provide relevant and effective substance abuse training to health healthcare professionals, such as identifying specific signs and symptoms of the industry’s most common drug issues. 


Minimizing Business Risk 

By avoiding the risk of hiring a candidate with a drug abuse problem, you can protect your organization from numerous potential issues, such as liability due to medical mistakes. 

Any mistake in the healthcare industry can quickly lead to a lawsuit. Even under normal circumstances, these legal issues can be difficult. However, when the employee who made the error was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it could be a nightmare for your business. 

On the other hand, quickly testing employees after any medical incident may be able to protect your company — if the results are negative. Being able to prove that alcohol or drugs didn’t play a role in the incident may be able to help if you have to go to court. 

Drug testing can also protect your employees. 

Employees testing negative for drugs or alcohol can prove that they don’t have a substance abuse issue. On the other hand, a positive drug test may push some candidates and employees to get the help they need.    


Promotes Workplace Safety 

Another benefit of drug testing in healthcare is that it can promote workplace safety. First, promptly identifying and dealing with employees under the influence at work can prevent a toxic and potentially dangerous workplace environment. 

Secondly, avoiding hiring candidates with substance abuse issues can help ensure your new hire has the skills, aptitude, and capability to handle the job. 

Finally, and most importantly, employees who are even slightly impaired in the workplace are at risk for making mistakes at work that could put everyone at risk, including patients and other employees. 

For example, a nurse under the influence could give the wrong medicine to a patient. A doctor who had several drinks before surgery could jeopardize the abilities of everyone in the OR and put the patient’s life in jeopardy.   


Recommended Reading: Drug and Occupational Health Testing 


Don’t risk hiring a candidate or retaining an employee who may have a substance abuse issue. Instead, use professional drug testing to screen candidates and employees for issues. 

This one step can protect the health of your patients and workers, as well as protect your company’s reputation and business interests. 


Using PreCheck for Your Healthcare Professional Drug Testing 

Drug testing can be tricky, especially when handled in-house. There’s always a risk of tampering with the drug results, errors in the administration process, or a lack of chain of command protocols. 

Instead, PreCheck can work as a Third-Party Administrator to ensure each employment drug test is conducted in a safe, secure, and sterile laboratory setting. Additionally, we have a stringent set of protocols in place to increase the accuracy and integrity of testing results. 

PreCheck can help your organization screen out bad new hires and identify current employees who may be at risk. 

Learn more about our PreCheck services for drug testing for healthcare providers. Request a demo or a consultation with our experts today. 

Screen smarter, hire safer. Get the right talent to drive your success. Speak to an expert.


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