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Drug Screening Q& A

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?
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.

Q   Who is a Medical Review Officer?  
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?
“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?
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?
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?
  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