Since August 2014, New Hampshire has had a law in place that requires most health care facilities and licensed providers to create a written drug testing policy that also addresses the issue of diversion of controlled substances. While the legislation does not spell out the specifics for the internal policy, it does require that it apply to all employees who “provide direct or hands-on care to clients.”
Last spring USA Today reported that there were more than 100,000 medical professionals abusing prescription drugs, and that this abuse posed a threat to patient care and health. One of the core findings was that, in many cases, it was extremely easy for these healthcare professionals to access prescription, and that they were particularly adepts at hiding their addiction. Understandably, the report sparked a national debate on how best to combat this problem.
The law also requires testing when there is reasonable cause to believe an employee is impaired, but generally leaves room for facilities to select their own policy so long as it is “appropriate to its size, the nature of services provided and its particular setting.”
The ultimate implementation of these policies will vary a great deal across the state, but all healthcare providers need to be aware of the new requirements. Developing a policy which protects patients means establishing procedures to monitor controlled substances in the medical facility, provide confidential employee assistance programs, as well as maintain consistent reporting and discipline standards will be critical for all health care providers in New Hampshire.
Photo courtesy of FtWashGuy under a creative commons license.