Do I have to list my psych meds and opioids on job app?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am relocating to Nevada to take a new position after working in the same hospital since early 2000. I'm concerned about the pre employment physical. The health form asks me to list all my medications and a complete body system questionnaire. I feel this is invasive, I'm afraid of the offer being rescinded.
    I take psychiatric medications, my oldest son committed suicide after returning from Iraq, it's something that feels private. Also, I take long acting opioid medication, for back pain, which is improving and I'm using lower and lower doses and decreasing my need for them by doing yoga, mindfulness, PT etc.
    I'm certainly not impaired but I think it looks bad. I can't really lie, but am I compelled to answer all these health questions? I'm moving to a new state, I quit my job. This is really stressing me out.


    Dear takes psychiatric and opioid meds,

    I am so sorry about your loss. I'm not an attorney, but they may well be within their rights.


    According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOC), you can be asked about prescription medications and mental condition after a conditional offer of employment has been made (post-offer, pre-start). This isn't true for every occupation, but if drugs may affect your ability to function safely, it's within their right. For example, policemen and firemen are similarly required to self-report.

    Opioids will of course show up in a pre-employment drug screen, but you have a prescription and it will most likely show as a therapeutic level.

    I feel you, it feels embarrassing and personal, but I believe so many nurses are treated for depression, anxiety and pain and just don't share. You are not alone.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   GaryRay
    I am treated for PTSD as well. I'm From Houston. A few years ago I got hit by a flash flood on my way to work (It's been going on long before Harvey) I was trapped in my car and was able to swim out after breaking the glass when the whole car was submerged. To make my pre-employment screening even more exciting, I have ADHD so I'm on vyvance too.

    I traveled for some time before this last position. Every 3 months I had Benzos, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and amphetamines in my drug screen. They have my pharmacy number on file, it takes an extra day for them to verify I've filled my prescriptions in the last year and my levels aren't too high.

    I've never discussed it with a manager, only employee health, as far as I know no one else even knows, I've never been approached or asked about it.

    Just remember with your pain med "impaired" is pretty loosely defined and rather subjective. I wouldn't talk to coworkers about your health and if you can pull it off a letter from your doctor stating they are confident your dose does not impact your cognitive skills. (Don't turn it in just keep it in case anyone ever says you are impaired at work)

    Good luck. Hope things work their way up. I'll be praying for you.
  4. by   FullGlass
    I've always listed my psych meds and never had a problem with getting hired. Lying on a job application is grounds for dismissal, if you are hired.

    I'm not an expert on opioids, but I would not advise leaving them off your application. If you are taking medication as prescribed, then you should be fine. If you are on a high does, then consult with your doctor on how to handle this.
  5. by   DextersDisciple
    I could be wrong but I always believed that pre-employment physicals are protected by HIPAA (wouldn't be shared with anyone besides direct HCP) , just like any other patient/person. I always list my medications and diagnoses and provide my rx bottles for anything that'll get flagged during a UDS. I've never had a problem.

    If for some reason I had an offer rescinded after I disclosed my health history I would call out the company for "un-equal" employment which [i think] is illegal.
  6. by   vintagemother
    I understand your concerns. I used to be on an SSRI (antidepressant). I had a job that told me they need to know *all* meds I was on and the form they had me fill out to consent for drug testing listed SSRIs listed as a testable substance. I felt this was a terrible invasion of privacy but I disclosed.

    As a side note...when I applied for my current job, I stopped taking all meds, so I wouldn't have to disclose.

    I'm a super private person.

    I felt uncomfortable with the fact that the front desk receptionist needed to know my medical history.
  7. by   DowntheRiver
    I used to dabble in Employee Health. Even if you do not disclose your opioid use and it shows up on a drug screen, it is not considered a positive unless it is unvalidated. If validated, such as a valid prescription, doctor's note, etc. the test will automatically turn to a negative. The most important thing is to make sure you answer your phone after a drug screen that you know will come back positive. I say this because most places give you 48 hours to call back to give them the info to validate the drug screen. If you don't provide that info in a certain time frame that positive will be reported as a positive.

    Keep in mind that if you do disclose your opioid use to your employer they may tell you that you may not be able to work while taking even your prescribed opioids at therapeutic levels. My employer will not (knowingly) allow you to work while taking opioids, even in a WC type case, and particularly while being a nurse. It is their policy and procedure and was put in the fine print that no one ever reads.

    As a side note, I don't know where people are getting this "therapeutic level" business as far as employment UDS goes. For treatment of chronic conditions I've seen "therapeutic levels" but never for UDS for pre-employment.
  8. by   Mavrick
    Wow. A compete medical history on an employment application that goes through so many hands does sound way too invasive. I can see an offer pending satisfactory medical exam as more acceptable. I wonder if the questions could be answered with a "private medical information provided separately" kind of statement?

    Times have changed I guess. Used to be they wanted to know IF you could do your job (i.e. bend over, lift 50 lbs, reach above your head etc.). Now they want to know HOW you do your job (i.e. need psych or pain medication to function).
    Last edit by Mavrick on Feb 17

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