New Hampshire’s House Bill 597 goes into effect August 25, 2014. The bill relates to a drug-free workplace for licensed health care facilities and providers that are licensed under New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 151. This includes hospitals, home health care providers, residential care facilities, nursing homes, and other licensed facilities and providers.
House Bill 597 requires health care facilities and providers to have a drug-free workplace policy. The policy must establish written procedures for the prevention, detection, and resolution of controlled substance abuse, misuse, and diversion. It will apply to employees, contractors, and agents of the facility who provide direct or hands-on care to clients when acting within the scope of their employment or representation. Facilities and providers must designate an employee or interdisciplinary team of employees to be responsible for the policy.
The new law contains very specific requirements regarding the issues that must be addressed in a drug-free workplace policy. It must include the following:
- Education of health care workers;
- Procedures for monitoring storage, distribution, and procurement of inventory if controlled substances are stored, dispensed, or administered at the health care setting;
- Procedures for voluntary self-referral by addicted employees;
- Procedures for co-worker reporting;
- Procedures for drug testing including, at a minimum, testing where reasonable suspicion exists;
- Procedures for employee assistance;
- Provisions for confidentiality;
- A process for the investigation, reporting, and resolution of drug misuse or diversion; and
- Consequences for violation of the drug misuse and diversion prevention policy.
The law does not indicate potential penalties for failure to comply. However, it is likely that failure to adopt and implement a drug-free workplace policy will result in the suspension or revocation of a facility’s or provider’s license. RSA § 151:7 permits suspension or revocation by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services where a facility engages in "conduct or practices detrimental to health and safety of patients."
All covered healthcare facilities and providers should review their existing drug testing and prevention policies with experienced legal counsel to ensure that they comply with the new law.
House Bill 597 is available for review here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB0597.pdf