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Does a Health Screening Include a Drug Test?

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A health screening for a new job will often include a drug test. A drug and health screening is essential for certain job roles, especially those that involve physical labor or operating heavy machinery. Substance abuse and other health concerns can negatively impact job performance and put other employees at risk. By doing regular drug and/or health screenings, employers can ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

As a company, you want to ensure that you're hiring individuals who are capable of performing the job well and adhering to company standards. Employees are a big investment. One such standard that many industries require is a drug and health screening. This type of screening helps determine whether an employee is fit for the job and can perform their duties safely.

A drug test is a type of screening that detects the presence of any illegal or prescription drugs. It can be done using a variety of bodily fluids, including urine, blood, hair, saliva, and sweat. These tests can detect drugs such as marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, cocaine, steroids, and high levels of alcohol in the blood. Physical exams may also be part of a drug and health screening if certain physical health requirements are met for the job.

Symptoms of drug abuse can include slurred speech, dilated pupils, signs of agitation, panic, paranoia, or delirium, breathing problems, and sickness or nausea. As an employer, you have the right to administer random drug and health tests, especially if employees exhibit symptoms of drug abuse. Making it clear to your team that random drug tests can be administered at any time can also serve as a deterrent for drug and alcohol abuse.

An employee will generally need to provide a urine sample during a drug test. Sometimes, a medical professional or staff member may need to be present when the sample is collected. It's essential to remind employees to disclose any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, or supplements they are taking, as these can cause a drug test to come back positive.

If an employee's test results come back negative, it means that no drugs were found in their body, or the level was very low. However, if the results come back as positive, one or more drugs were found at an established level. False positives can occur, so there may be another test to confirm whether an employee is taking certain drugs. Developing policies outlining the repercussions for employees who fail a drug test is critical to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. By providing support resources and offering a course of action for employees who fail a drug test, companies can ensure that their staff maintains a high level of health and well-being.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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