Denied employment at agency due to ordered prescriptions

  1. Hello everybody. First of all I would like to say I think this website is great. I've been using it throughout RN school, and recently I decided to make an account after getting my RN License.

    So, here is some back ground...
    a) When I applied to RN school, I fully disclosed all medication that I was taking, which is also by order of a providers prescription. (Vicodin, on rare occasion if needed for breathrough pain, valium 5mg prn, and ambien 10mg prn insomnia)

    b) In light of this information, RN school accepted me nevertheless. Throughout RN school I excelled. I maintained a 3.7 GPA, worked an average of 20 hours per week (in pharmacy), and I excelled in safe patient care, getting several recommendations from my instructors and preceptor.

    The situation is this...
    My final semester ended in December. I was literally sought out by the Director of the acute-care floor where I did my preceptorship to start working as soon as I had my RN License. I completed all the paperwork for hire, took the NCLEX in January & passed in 75 questions, and informed my other job, of 8 continuous years, that I would be moving on to be a newly employed RN.

    a) As part of the conditions of starting, like everyone else, I had to pass the pre-employment physical, etc. Within the process of filling out this paperwork, I honestly completed it the same way that I did my paperwork for RN School.
    (in other words: I was forthright about my legally prescribed medications, before I took my drug test)
    The drug test showed positive for benzodiazepines,
    but the test was deemed negative because I have a prescription for them.

    b) The offer was withdrawn.........

    c) I stated to the Doctor denying me clearance, "How is it possible that I have done approximately 500/1,000 hours of the BRN prescribed clinical hours, at this hospital, and there was never an issue when I wasn't being paid?"
    The doctor responded "they probably didn't know you where on these medications".
    I told him my RN program was well aware of it, and furthermore, I was one of the minority of students in my school that never got written up for making ANY minor or major errors: throughout my entire program, and I had practically almost all straight A's.

    *Nevertheless, the job where I was going to be doing what I love, & make appx 35/hr, was pulled from me just a few weeks ago,
    and I have been left stunned.*

    If I were a threat to myself or others, i could understand the offer being pulled.
    But come on, the Doctor actually just simply told me "if you were off the medications, you probably would have gotten the job".

    Now I ask for your help my fellow RNs...

    My question is: do you or anybody you know, who takes occasional AND LEGALLY prescribed controlled substances have a job as an RN?
    If so, did you disclose this in your pre-employment physical?

    Your input will be greatly appreciated...

    However, I do ask for those of you who may want to say something presumptuous or rude, please keep it to yourself.

    (p.s., for those of you who may wonder: I NEVER have ingested ANY controlled substance at while at clinical or while working in the pharmacy in 8 years)
    Last edit by RNwithHonors on Mar 3, '12 : Reason: adding one last detail
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    About RNwithHonors

    Joined: Mar '12; Posts: 6; Likes: 23


  3. by   Meriwhen
    I am prescribed a couple of C-IVs that I take occasionally. When I went for my pre-employment physical, I was asked to list all the medications I was on. I listed everything: controlled, regular, OTC as well as when I took each last.

    I don't know if I tested positive for anything--I had been taking the benzo a few days prior due to a death in the family--and I didn't ask for the specific results. But whatever the UDS outcome was, they told me things were fine, I went ahead with the physical and started the job shortly thereafter.

    Sorry this is happening to you.
  4. by   jt43
    I don't really have any experience with this and I don't mean to sound harsh but just because you can and do take a medication legally doesn't mean that it doesn't impair judgment/function. It's legal for anyone over 21 to consume alcohol, but you can bet a nurse would get fired for having alcohol in their system during working hours. It sounds to me like the potential place of employment has determined that a positive test for benzos=impairment.
  5. by   Meriwhen
    Quote from jt43
    It sounds to me like the potential place of employment has determined that a positive test for benzos=impairment.
    The problem with benzos, especially long-acting ones like Valium, is their long half-life. The OP could have taken it three days prior to the test and still test positive--even though the effects of the medication on the OP lasted only several hours and are long-finished by the time of the test--because it takes forever for Valium's metabolites to pass through the system.
    Last edit by Meriwhen on Mar 3, '12
  6. by   jt43
    I know, but the policy is probably any positive test=impairment. It might be worth asking
  7. by   jt43
    Maybe it would be a good idea to switch to a benzo with a shorter half-life and make sure not to take them the week before a drug screen.
  8. by   caliotter3
    I think it would be worth your trouble to look further into this. I believe you were done a disservice if they followed their policy and that policy were not disclosed to potential employees as part of the hiring process. The other lesson here is to not walk away from your present job until you have a written offer or are just about to start the new job. It seems too many people are caught up in this type of thing. Sometimes the first new paycheck even bounces. Nothing sure anymore.
  9. by   NickiLaughs
    Places are denying people work for various things including smoking now because of the higher insurance costs/sick days/etc. Basically, if you aren't completely healthy, they are finding ways to not hire you. They not only want the best and brightest now...they want the healthiest. Any medications on the list other than vitamins are probably starting to get red flags.
    My most recent physical at a hospital was ridiculous and involved jogging around with weights in my arms. I'm certain many floor nurses wouldn't have passed it, I barely did and I'm in OK shape and only 28.
    More than likely somewhere in their policy allows them to deny you employment. I would just try to find a job elsewhere.
    I'm sorry this happened to you.
  10. by   Altra
    Policies on interpretation of drug screens will vary from employer to employer -- and there is nothing in the law that prevents employers from doing so.

    Your school's policies regarding your drug screen have no bearing on future employment.
  11. by   klone
    Quote from Altra
    Your school's policies regarding your drug screen have no bearing on future employment.
    This. What happened while you were in school has nothing to do with what is happening now, so I'm not sure why you keep making a point of bringing it up. Nursing school policies have no bearing on hiring practices at this hospital. Most states are "at will" and they can choose to hire or fire for whatever reason, and if your drug screen didn't come back clean, I don't know that it matters if you have a prescription. They may decide that they don't want to deal with the hassle of trying to decide if it was because of a legit prescription or something you diverted, or if you have a substance abuse issue, and they'll just decide to move onto the next candidate, from which I'm sure they have a huge pool to choose. The lesson in this - don't take controlled substances when you're applying for jobs!
  12. by   RNwithHonors
    I appreciate everybody's feedback. The best I can do is to adapt and move on with hopes of finding a different RN job soon.

    I am always very considerate as far as my surroundings are concerned, as I have never have taken medication while at work or clinical. (or the night before if I had clinical in the morning)

    Reason being: I care too much for my patients.

    Most of all, I thank those of you who expressed empathy.

    My prescriber, at my request, has reduced my already low doses so I can safely titrate down.
    I learned the hard way that some entities (school or employer) may be more or less conservative regarding these matters.
    Thank you for sharing..
    = )
    Your fellow RN
  13. by   nursel56
    Just wanted to say I'm sorry your first job offer ended that way -- I can imagine it must've been even more disappointing as it was unexpected that this doc could veto your job offer.

    Everything you go through teaches a life lesson - it took me a long time to come to terms with some of it. I'm sure you'll find someplace that values you, hang in there.
  14. by   stargazer88
    Happened to me too. My dream job down the tubes. Lesson learned. Don't disclose anything. They ask you to list your meds like it's no big deal. A negative drug screen comes back but then the employer pulls out the list you wrote and says, so what about these meds? It's a big farce when people tell you "as long as you have a legal RX, no problem". The nursing shortage is over. The days are gone when as long as you were an RN and breathing, you were hired. When I first graduated, I was offered jobs at every single hospital I applied to. I could be picky. I'm even thinking of applying at wal mart and Mcdonalds just to have a paycheck. Sad.