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Can they do this?

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Hello All: Ok here is my question. I was called into my managers office and due to the fact that I take frequent bathroom breaks and give alot of meds was asked to provide a hair sample drug screen. I was told that no meds were missing, my charting was impecable and my behavior was fine. I was in shock that they asked me to do this. Either way I told my boss I was not comfortable providing a hair sample because my hair does not grow and is very thin and fall out due to a medical condition (my thyroid was removed when I was 7 yrs old and have taken meds for it, for 27yrs) I have not had my hair cut or clipped in 10 yrs by a professional so I know I am not letting some amateur near my head with sicissors. I did do some research and talked with other people who said they take chunks of hair. 120-240 hairs with each chunk. I dont have that much hair to give. Now I did take it upon myself to provide a urine drug screen and offered to give blood and saliva but that was not good enough for them. I was told that refusing the hair test was the same as having a positive test result and I would not be able to come back to work until giving a hair sample. After 1.5 weeks of waiting for them to call me, I finally called my boss and told her I would not be coming back to work there. She stated it was out of her hands when I refused the test. I never said the word refuse to them I only stated I did not feel comfortable taking the hair test due to my thinning hair and it not growing. My boss said she would send me my separation papers, that I would need them. (not sure what that meant) and we ended the phone call. I feel like I was made to quit. I was also told it was not a policy that had been implemented or put into action just a request from them. However I could not come back to work until i give the hair sample. my questions are, 1. Is this legal? 2. can they report me to the BON 3. would they have been able to legally fire me if I didnt take the test since hair sample was not policy? Keep in mind I took a urine drug screen and offered blood and saliva...I am a wreck now cause I have no job and finding it difficult to find one. Please give me some answers!! Thanks!

BTW- I am new here so any information or help would be great?

luvche

Specializes in Med/Surg/Ortho, Oncology, PACU. Has 8 years experience.

I would definitely document the urine test AND your offer of blood and saliva. I would also get documents of your medical condition.

Also, make sure YOU have a copy of the drug screen results. Be prepared and two steps ahead in case it is board reportable. If the investigator contacts you and says it was reported that you refused to test, you can honestly tell them : I did not, and I actually have the results.

The investigator will look at all the evidence. it sounds like they have none: No documentation discrepancies, no conflicting narcotic counts, etc.

Can they do this? Legally I don't know. But I have found, if you can't afford to fight, they can do what they want. Contact your department of labor. In the wisdom of Jackstem: if you can, at least consult a lawyer who specializes in representing RNs and medical personnel.

You never know. Good nurses have gotten screwed into diversion programs when they didn't do anything wrong. Bad nurses have probably avoided diversion programs. I would just say to arm yourself with as much documented info as possible.

Thanks for the reply, the thing is I was in such distress that when I took the urine test, I threw my boss her copy and mine on her desk, so I dont have a copy showing proof that I took the test. However the place was across the street at the hospital lab so they should have a record of it. I have since then applied for another job and taken another drug test and have that copy. I have thought about calling the EEOC, I have 300 days to file a complaint but not sure if it is worth it. The other thing is I just moved to this state 2 yrs ago and do not have a steady dr here. All of my dr records and hospital records are in another state.

luvche

Specializes in Med/Surg/Ortho, Oncology, PACU. Has 8 years experience.

Yeah, it should be easy to go to the place and get that result. You might as well start the process of getting old records ASAP (besides, your next doc will have to do that anyway once you establish one....so you kill two birds with one stone)

If the place knows they are in the wrong, they prob wont report you. Or all they can do is report that you refused testing. Again, you did not. I would also place a written request (again, keep a copy) for a written copy of companies drug testing policy. Write to HR. unless you already have a copy in your employee handbook.

Till then, keep trucking. If you did nothing wrong, the info will show this. Good luck!

I did ask my boss' boss for a copy of the policy and she said she would send me one in the mail....never got it. She also stated that the policy was not going to be as specific as I (me) would like it to be. I know for a fact that hair sampling drug testing has not been implemented as a policy, that is why I took it upon myself to take a urine test. Urine testing is their standard and when I told them this they responded with "You have to do what we request or you can not come back to work" I had no choice but to quit. What bothers me most is I was told that not taking the hair sample test was the same as having a positive result. I guess I am angry because I feel I should not have to deal with this, and should not have to worry about obtaining my personal medical records and run around town getting my drug test results. I am not saying that I have never done anything wrong cause Lord knows, however I was very happy with my life and now I am just depressed over this.

Not providing the hair sample was not a wise thing to do.

luvche

Specializes in Med/Surg/Ortho, Oncology, PACU. Has 8 years experience.

I know being in PEER or recovery we would provide hair samples if asked. I find it as odd as this poor nurse does that they jumped right for hair sample! She was asked to do something totally out of the ordinary that would have changed her appearance (even if only she noticed, she just said she has trouble growing hair!

A urine sample is usually sufficient and justified. I think this manager probably wanted more than what's required by the facility. That's why I would ask HR/corporate about hair testing. Not the manager.

Don't be depressed. Get out there. Find a better place. You can't go daily worrying. It will just make you sick. Just prepare to deal with it if/when it comes up.

If asked why you left the last job, I would say "I feel I was singled out due to symptoms of a medical condition, and was asked to do something above the norm of what would be needed to prove said medical condition".

syckRN

Specializes in Emergency Department, House Supervisor. Has 15 years experience.

From a Peer in Recovery (me, SyckRN)

In many states, NC for sure, any test that is done "for cause" automatically goes to the Board and they WILL investigate. If you haven't diverted or if any potential "offending" ingredients show up in your urine, be prepared to explain and provide your own prescriptions for these drugs. Otherwise, GET AN ATTORNEY. Take if from me, the Board is not your friend, and their job is to keep the public safe. Some board members are voted in or appointed and the public is extremely active against impaired professionals.

In California the governor swept the incumbent BRN out of office last year because they were too EASY on impaired nurses. I had just completed their diversion program and I can legitimately BEG TO DIFFER with the governor!!

So again, get a lawyer. There are those who DO these kinds of cases. Be proactive, as others have shared already. Have an answer for every single question that might be asked. This is SERIOUS business. Even if you are NOT an impaired professional, you COULD still end up in "the program."

From one "heinous" nurse to one who may or may not be...you wouldn't like it.

Syck as ever,

SyckRN

sissykim

Specializes in Med Surg,.

They can do what they please. Are you for real? Why do you give so many meds. And if you give more narcotics than the average nurse on your unit then you are suspect. They asked for hair for a reason. Some of the activity that you describe is consistant with a divertion, taking frequent breaks and administering more than average amount of narcotic medications. Give the hair, allow a professional stylist to perform the honors in a chain of custody. They will not just wack off your hair indiscriminatly. If you are innocent, you can wear a wig. If they want to find you guilty they will, and at your expence.

southernbeegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Rehab, Infection, LTC. Has 16 years experience.

My suggestion is that you have the hair test done on your own dime and get it done ASAP. You should have taken that test. A company has the right to ask for anything they want....it's their company. Your behavior of numerous bathroom breaks IS a reason for cause and in that case, they can ask for whatever they want. Hair testing is becoming more and more the preferred test. I am not saying you were doing drugs in the batheroom, only that it is a suspicious behavior, which is why they requested a drug test. In any job you ever have, if they ask for a drug test, you should give it. A refusal IS considered a positive result and must be reported to the BON, which is why she told you it was now out of her hands. The fact that you got a urine test on your own means nothing. People can take stuff that will mask a urine screen within one hour. So your refusal for a hair test but then doing a urine is also suspiscious.

Again, I am not accusing you of diverting or drug use. I am only showing you what behaviors they were seeing that made them want to test you for drugs.

If you get a hair test on your own NOW, then you might have a defense to the BON. You could tell them of your reservations due to your thin hair but then tell them when you lost your job because of your refusal (and whether you admit it to yourself or not, you DID refuse to take it by not giving them the sample, even if you didn't say the word, you refused) you realized your mistake and had a test done on your own. The hair test is the only thing that will prove your innocence. and trust me, when you meet with the investigator and the BON (and you will meet them), you will need this to defend yourself. You will have to have an evaluation with PEER for sure to see if you need rehab or they can just bound you over to go to rehab. It took the BON 8 months before they were able to get to the complain against me so it probably will be a while before you get a letter. Thats why I say get a hair sample on your own now so you will have a defense. good luck to you!

I give/gave a lot of meds because I work/worked at an outpatient surgery center. Another things is other nurses were not so nice to me and gave me the cosmetic post ops and and shoulder and knee surgeries, or just in general the harder patients which required more meds. Ok this is the deal. I work 10 hr shifts. At the start of my shift I get a box, and in that box contains (5) 5mg percocets, (2) 10mg morphines, (3) 100mcg fentynals, (1) 50mg demerol, and (6) 1mg dilaudids. I have approx. 7-14 patient in a 10 shift. I will use most if not all of my dilaudid, and occasionally some percocets, and every now and then a demerol if the pt is shivering. I never ask for a refill on my box, or use any extra meds. We have prewritten orders to always start with the dilaudid and go from there. If I have ever needed to give additional medication I always ask anesthesia before doing so. I have never had a problem. If drugs are missing in the department which I have only known that to happen once since I have been there, then everybody that is working that day gets sent to urine drug test.

Another thing, my frequent bathroom breaks are because I am diabetic and have to urinate frequently, cant help it. I am already self conscious of my hair so NO I am not going to get it chopped off when there is no reason for it. I did what was REQUIRED of me just not what was REQUESTED....

syckRN

Specializes in Emergency Department, House Supervisor. Has 15 years experience.

Dear Sissykim,

Are YOU for real? Whether the person who wrote the original post is addicted or not, there are certain rights and courtesies that are part of the code of ethics for nurses. One of these is to treat all other nurses with respect. That includes on the job and on the blog.

One of THEM. SyckRN

My stomach is in knots, and I feel like I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I have known people to get their licenses suspended for positive results but have never heard of the BON waiting 8 months. It only took my friend a couple of weeks to get her license snatched up. So do I need to worry for the next year about getting a letter and everytime I see the mailman feel like I need to go hide under a rock?

syckRN

Specializes in Emergency Department, House Supervisor. Has 15 years experience.

Dear traumagyl,

You can call the BRN and find out if any complaint has been filed or is pending. Remember this...YOU HAVE RIGHTS! The BRN cannot trample them without good cause. At least talk to an attorney. They will tell you how long the BRN has before they have to act on a complaint. In California, I DID wait a year. I called the BRN early on and they advised me to get a job in order to establish that I could work safely and so when the cogs in the wheel of bureaucracy finally did catch up to me I had some evidence that mitigated my entrance into their program. Let me be clear...I WAS an addict and although I had NEVER diverted meds at work, I DID go to work impaired. So I got what was coming to me.

Stop fretting. That's my advice. And establish safe practice.

SyckRN

I am failing to understand why the OP is upset with her facility.

She was "asked" to provide a hair sample for analysis, she refused. A refusal is to some degree is admitting guilt whether true or not. One usually knows what the drug policy is when hired, if you refuse you you are just reinforcing what "they" think.

It does not really matter if a hair sample is in the Employees manual or not, Employee manuals, like other "official" publications can change or be updated without notice. Sad but true, read the fine print.

I equate this to a Drill Sargent saying "Drop and give me 100 pushups!" you do it or you pay the consequences.

I thought that Sissykim's post was rather innocuous just another viewpoint.

syckRN

Specializes in Emergency Department, House Supervisor. Has 15 years experience.

I agree with "telling it like one sees it" and the post by Sissykim was an honest response. Just not supportive. Not that that is a requirement. Personally, I would like to see more support and less judgment.

That's me personally, as one who has bee judged both justly and unjustly.

Syck Syck SyckRN

Dear Syck,

Back in March I was terminated from another job for making too many med waste/errors. I was drug tested 3 times and tested negative everytime. My boss told me that he did not feel like I was an addict but thought I could possibly be diverting them out of the hospital but he was not sure. He terminated our relationship and told me he would have to report it to what I am assuming is TNPAP. (just figured out what TNPAP was when I went to Jack Stems website a few days ago) I had never heard anything from them or anyone so I figured it was over and moved on. Now I am dealing with this. I urinate a lot, big deal, I take care of my patients and medicate them well before sending them home unlike the other nurses that dont care about their patients. I feel disreguarded as a person or even a human being. I cant help who I am, nor can I help my medical issues. Every hair on my head counts and I do not feel like I can afford to loose even ONE.