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 Drug Screening FAQ

Q  Should all positive drug screens be reported?
Yes, the Board will conduct an investigation to determine if further action is warranted. This includes, but may not be limited to pre-employment, for cause, random, post incident, etc.

Q If the agency has its own program for employees who test positive for drugs, must they be reported?
A  Yes, this is both an employer issue and a licensure issue. Each case will be carefully evaluated to determine appropriate action, but all cases must be reported.

 Who is a Medical Review Officer?
A   A Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a licensed physician who is an expert in drug and alcohol testing and in the application of federal regulations to the testing process.

Q  What is a chain-of-custody specimen?
A  “Chain of custody” is a legal designation that defines the circumstances under which a specimen was collected and ensures that no tampering occurred. (For specific information on how to collect a chain-of-custody specimen, contact the reference laboratory used by your agency.)

Q  Is it public information if a nurse is reported for positive drug screens?
A  If the nurse is subsequently found in violation of the Nurse Practice Act and is disciplined by the Board of Nursing, this action is then considered public information.

Q Who pays for the chemical dependency evaluation and the drug screens?
The nurse is responsible for the cost of the evaluation and the drug screens.

Q  How does this affect me if I am a “recreational drug user” and not a substance abuser?
A  The Board does not discriminate between these two types of users. The use of any controlled substance may impair a person’s ability to practice nursing safely. The Board believes in zero tolerance for the presence of illicit substances in a licensed nurse’s system while he or she is delivering care.
* Keep in mind that it is illegal to use a prescription medication not prescribed for you.

Q  What if I have a legitimate prescription for a controlled substance and it shows on a drug screen?
A  The MRO report will distinguish between the legitimate positive screens and the illegitimate results.

Q  May I take my legitimate prescription for a controlled substance and work in nursing?
That is a decision for you, your healthcare practitioner, and your employer. However, you may not work if the substance impairs your ability to function and practice in a safe manner.


September 2005
Reviewed/Revised 01/13