Random Drug Testing For Nurses

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While employment screening in the healthcare sector is decidedly standard, the law does often not require drug and alcohol testing. Substance abuse is one of the leading causes of disciplinary action against a nursing license in the U.S. Random drug screenings are used to detect the use of unapproved or illegal drugs for the purpose of upholding patient safety (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2006). The American Nurses Association (ANA) estimates that six to eight percent of nurses use alcohol or drugs to a degree that would impair professional judgment (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2011). Approximately one-third of the one percent of actively licensed nurses are disciplined each year for their substance misconduct (Kenward, 2008). Protecting patients from unsafe practices and personnel is the primary responsibility of each supervisory board of nursing. However, the fear of punishment from the board or termination keeps many nurses unwilling to come forward (Maher-Brisen 2007). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the viability of mandating random drug testing for nurses and other health professionals. The objective of this would be to address the rooted issues of substance abuse and decrease the risk of harm to patients under the healthcare provider’s care.
Argument for Drug Testing
A nurse is required to exercise appropriate clinical judgment and respond safely and quickly in order to effectively care for a patient. Substance abuse among nurses is an issue that compromises the delivery of quality care and professional standards of nursing. Many nurses are not recognized as having a problem until a patient has been endangered (Clark and Farnsworth, 2006). It has been estimated that 10-...

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... nurses would be receiving help. Those nurses unwilling to comply with monitoring after a positive drug screen would be terminated from employment.
The nursing profession is guided by the principal of nonmaleficence, or “Do no harm”. Nurses are responsible for maintaining and optimizing a patient’s quality of life. When nurses fail to care for themselves, they also put their patients at risk. The patient has a reasonable expectation to receive safe and competent care. The influence of drugs and alcohol greatly deteriorate the judgment and skills of any good nurse. Increased patient workload, long hours, personal stress, and sleep deprivation put many nurses in a position to self-medicate. It is my position that high-risk specialty employees undergo drug testing in order to be held accountable and help keep their patients and themselves safe from harm.
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