Patients with home health aides can rest easy as only 2.7 percent of applicants failed a pre-employment drug test last year. New York state law requires most home health aides and other healthcare workers to pass an employment physical, which includes 8-panel drug tests as well as standard background checks on potential hires. The test checks for amphetamine barbiturate, benzodiazepine, cannabinoids (THC), cocaine, methadone, opiates and phencyclidine in the system. Applicants who test positive for any of these illicit drugs are referred to their recruiter who then decides the next steps in the hiring process.
Although these numbers do not accurately reflect the general population’s survey of drug abuse, it does serve to assure patients that very few drug users are seeking employment in the healthcare industry. Those who do are being intercepted quickly through these pre-employment drug screenings as well as background checks. The numbers for 2012 are down from previous years as well thanks to the comprehensive drug-screening program. In 2010, New York City reported that 16 percent of all New Yorkers abuse an illicit drug and a report in 2007 by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) noted that 3 out of 4 drug users are employed.
In order to protect patients who require home health aides or other types of healthcare employees, many companies require that all applicants submit to a series of employment screening programs like medical assessments, physicals, background checks, and drug tests. Employers of these potential hires must ensure their workers are safe and healthy. Employers in the healthcare industry may be able to immediately disqualify applicants who test positive for drugs, but they must provide justification for denying applicants with a criminal record. The new policies of the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee state that no company can disqualify a candidate because of a criminal history. Instead, they must take a deeper look into the charges and convictions before rejecting the applicant. Applicants who have drug-related or abuse charges can be disqualified for these home health aide positions, but employers are still required to justify their decision and give the applicant an opportunity to explain the charges. For most healthcare employers, a proactive employee drug-testing program weeds out the majority of drug abusers who may also have criminal records.
Although there are still a small number of drug users applying for these healthcare positions, it would appear that these pre-employment drug screenings are keeping them from attaining to these positions. While initial drug tests help businesses from employing drug users, there are no continuous drug tests to ensure that current employers are not taking advantage of their access to pharmaceutical grade drugs. Still, these proactive tests are the first line of defense against employing current and potential drug abusers.
If your company is interested in adding Drug Screening to your pre-employment process, you may want to invest in the services of backgroundchecks.com. They can provide you drug screening services at more than 2,000 occupational health clinics across the country. You can add this feature to your comprehensive background screening package, which might also include the multi-jurisdictional US OneSEARCH product . That search checks more than 450 million criminal records across the nation. By combining these two services, you will have a better picture of the potential employee you are hiring, and you may even be able to weed out some candidates with less than reputable pasts, if those pasts (or their current practices) would make them unsuitable for the position you seek to fill.
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Author: Michael Klazema
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments