Drug testing in nursing school - page 2

Sorry if this is covered somewhere else, but I haven't been able to find an answer for this specific question... So, a friend of mine is about to start nursing school, and she wanted to know... Read More

  1. by   BabyLady
    Quote from pharmgirl
    When I started school I had to take a drug test. I had just had a lump removed from my breast and had taken exactly one pain pill the day of the surgery when I received notice of the drug test the next day. I called the director to explain that I had a PRESCRIBED pain pill yadda yadda. The director informed me that if I were to test positive for the pain pill I would be dismissed from the program end of story, no exceptions. He explained that although he understood, it was the hospital policy where we do clinicals that even if it is prescribed you are still "impaired". And if you can't do clinicals, you can't pass NS. Needless to say, I took no more pain pills and suffered through recovery without them.

    The moral is, even if you're on a prescription or even if the school doesn't require it, the clinical site might.
    What the nursing instructor told you is incorrect. Having surgery is legally protected as a short-term disability. That is blatant, discrimination. You have the right to be treated and they have to give you reasonable accommodations.

    Neither the school nor the facility has the right to tell you that you cannot be treated.

    Not all pain pills "impair" you and it was wrong for her to put you in that category.
  2. by   hypocaffeinemia
    Quote from OC85
    See, that's the thing, I was under the impression that California's right to privacy laws generally prohibit random testing without probable cause. I'm almost certain that employers cannot randomly test their employees without the employees signing a waiver [sometimes required for employment]. Are the rules different for schools? Or are nursing school just an exception?

    I don't know where you get off talking about "temptation", though. Did I say she was addicted to narcotics, or something? It seems that you [like almost everyone else who has responded so far] are pretty quick to make assumptions and pass broad judgments. There are other reasons why people would rather not take a drug test other than hiding a drug problem. For example, there are a number of prescription drugs that show up, and the only way to explain them may be to reveal certain aspects of your private medical history that you might prefer to keep private. But of course, its not like nurses could be expected to know things like that....Also, just for the sake of argument, lets say we're only talking about illegal drugs. Are you honestly telling me that you don't think there's a HUGE difference between someone who likes to smoke some MJ on their off time, and someone who is addicted to oxycontin?

    Seriously, I was just asking a simple question about what school legally can, and cannot do. In case none of you noticed, I never said she was even remotely concerned about whether she would pass a drug test or not. We were just both interested to see how California's right to privacy laws apply here. Surprising though it may be, some people like to ask questions just for the sake of learning something.
    Simple answer: It's for patient safety. Hospitals screen all new employees, and have the right to refuse your friend as a student if she doesn't get screened. Often the schools do the tests and certify to the hospitals they contract with that all students have valid BLS, shot records, and clean urine tests.
  3. by   trauma_queen2010
    First off in NS you do your clinicals at a hospital or other medical facility. Hospitals generally require anyone working in any capacity to pass a drug screen. Yes this is legal. If there are medications that could show up in the screen you can usually show proof of the prescription when you do the initial screen without haveing to explain anything. If it is prescribed thats all that really matters. Depending on what medical condition your friend may be trying to keep in the bag so to say it may be something she should disclose anyway. Especially in the instance that it can be spread to a patient. Those things are kept on need to know basis anyways. Some schools require a full physical also.
  4. by   TessaMae
    Quote from OC85
    See, that's the thing, I was under the impression that California's right to privacy laws generally prohibit random testing without probable cause. I'm almost certain that employers cannot randomly test their employees without the employees signing a waiver [sometimes required for employment]. Are the rules different for schools? Or are nursing school just an exception?

    I don't know where you get off talking about "temptation", though. Did I say she was addicted to narcotics, or something? It seems that you [like almost everyone else who has responded so far] are pretty quick to make assumptions and pass broad judgments. There are other reasons why people would rather not take a drug test other than hiding a drug problem. For example, there are a number of prescription drugs that show up, and the only way to explain them may be to reveal certain aspects of your private medical history that you might prefer to keep private. But of course, its not like nurses could be expected to know things like that....Also, just for the sake of argument, lets say we're only talking about illegal drugs. Are you honestly telling me that you don't think there's a HUGE difference between someone who likes to smoke some MJ on their off time, and someone who is addicted to oxycontin?

    Seriously, I was just asking a simple question about what school legally can, and cannot do. In case none of you noticed, I never said she was even remotely concerned about whether she would pass a drug test or not. We were just both interested to see how California's right to privacy laws apply here. Surprising though it may be, some people like to ask questions just for the sake of learning something.
    When you go for a drug test, typically there is a form you fill out which asks you to list prescription meds. Say you were taking adderall (amphetamine salts) first off, this would not show up as illegal amphetamines, second, if you have a valid prescription that you can produce, you would be fine. With HIPPA, the hospital or whomever is giving the drug test can't tell anyone that your taking certain medications nor could it be added to your school files or be used against you. As future nurses we have all learned about confidentiality.
    Also, if there was not any "fine print" about drug testing, I am sure that it said somewhere in the paperwork that you need to adhere to the standards set by the clinical agencies - which at most medical facilities includes drug testing.

    I really don't want to sound negative but when you say "Are you honestly telling me that you don't think there's a HUGE difference between someone who likes to smoke some MJ on their off time, and someone who is addicted to oxycontin?" sure there is a difference but MJ is against the law. How does anyone know if your using on your own time or while your caring for a patient or driving down the road?
    I think your friend should get used to it now almost any job they will get as a nurse will require drug testing. If the question is simply hypothetical and just about fairness, think of it this way how fair would it be if they didn't test and a student nurse killed someone you know because they didn't know of the drug abuse?
  5. by   9livesRN
    we had to get tested in december!

    and they said that they'll have mandatory pop up checks on that!
  6. by   FireStarterRN
    I think it's a great idea to do random drug testing in nursing school! It would weed out the problem people before they have a chance to become nurses.

    If you need drugs to help you cope with nursing school, you'll need them later.
  7. by   jeninthedesert
    Drug testing was a requirement for my nursing program. Drug screens are required for a lot of reasons, one if which is due to doing clinicals in an acute care environment. The hospitals generally ask that students are drug screened, in addition to having their immunizations updated. Admission to a nursing program is contingent on passing the drug screening, whether or not tuition has been paid and registration has taken place.
  8. by   OC85
    Thank you, everyone who at least tried to give an answer without standing on a soapbox.

    As for the rest of you:
    Again, I never even said there was concern about whether she could pass or not. Really, it was a simple question about how the law applies. Not everyone who asks these questions has something to hide. Any mention of my friend or her school was made simply as a way of saying, "Yeah, so the other day, a friend and I were having a conversation, and this is how the topic came up.". I never even said she would try to refuse, if she thought she could. Like I said before, some people just like knowing things. Also, we're both well aware that testing is usually required for clinicals, and most hospitals use random testing. So please, get it through your heads, no one is trying to hide a drug problem. As someone who believes very strongly in an individuals right to privacy, from the government, employers, and schools alike, this was simply a question that I thought was interesting. If you all want the honest truth, your answers don't really make any difference to either of use, as neither of us actually have any issues with passing a drug test. I really don't know how to make it any clearer than that. I would have phrased the question as a hypothetical, but I'm sure I would have received even more "drugs are bad" responses. Questions like this aren't always about drugs, specifically. Sometimes people are asking about how far someone can go into your personal business and when. As a citizen of a country that is supposedly based on the freedoms and privacy of the individual, I simply thought this was an interesting question.

    I'll try to rephrase the question. If a school requires a pre-admission drug test, are they required to give the student prior notice [such as at the time of application], or can they ask for a drug test the first day with no warning. Again, I'm simply curious because, to the best of my knowledge, California law requires some sort of notification of policy before a drug test can be required. At the same time, I'm not so sure this applies to things like nursing school.
    Last edit by OC85 on Jan 4, '09
  9. by   UVA Grad Nursing
    We do not require a drug test at present to be a student. However, students are subject to the requirements of the clinical sites where they are placed. Some clinical placement sites do require drug testing (and students are liable for this cost). We do not honor student requests to change clinical sites because of drug testing requirements. We tell students that they must submit to Criminal Background Checks and any additional requirements made by clinical agencies.

    There is some talk at the State level to require drug testing for all nursing and medical students (since it is required for all employees). But it is not a uniform requirement yet.
  10. by   FireStarterRN
    I think nursing schools have you by the proverbial balls, that's what I think.
  11. by   OC85
    Quote from UVA Grad Nursing
    We do not require a drug test at present to be a student. However, students are subject to the requirements of the clinical sites where they are placed. Some clinical placement sites do require drug testing (and students are liable for this cost). We do not honor student requests to change clinical sites because of drug testing requirements. We tell students that they must submit to Criminal Background Checks and any additional requirements made by clinical agencies.

    There is some talk at the State level to require drug testing for all nursing and medical students (since it is required for all employees). But it is not a uniform requirement yet.
    Thank you for the response, but I already knew clinical sites usually require testing. My question was, can the school itself require testing at some point during the program without informing the student of this policy prior to admission. I'm not even saying that schools shouldn't have the right to test students, just wondering if they are required to be upfront about their policies. Its questions like these that are often argued in court, and consequently, come to shape the letter of the law that we all live under, hence, I thought it was an interesting question.

    Seriously, though, thank you for trying to answer the question without inserting some sort of judgment.
  12. by   hypocaffeinemia
    My google-fu yields nothing regarding California laws requiring notification before drug testing of anybody. I did read something about needing a compelling interest to perform random tests on employees, but that doesn't apply here.
  13. by   tencat
    I would imagine if you were to read the fine print you would find a tiny clause somewhere saying if you sign the paperwork, you've consented to the drug testing. I wouldn't think they could just out of the blue, with no informing of some kind, make you take a drug test without having it been written somewhere. They give the information, and it's up to the signer to be aware of what he/she is signing by reading it thoroughly. Not that I do that........but it's my own fault if something I don't like shows up and I haven't read it carefully before I signed it.

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