Last month, a therapist called the MetroHSN office and asked why she was “required to submit to these silly drug screens every single year”. This wasn’t the first therapist to express their frustration with the MetroHSN drug screening policy. The reasoning for our policy is very simple and straightforward, but perhaps we haven’t communicated it to our contract therapists in a clear and concise manner…and no, the answer isn’t that the office staff likes to run you around and take up your already scarce free time.Yearly screenings are for protection – yours as a therapist, MetroHSN’s as a contract service, the client agency’s for liability and vetting purposes and, most importantly, that of the patients and clients, who should always be our ultimate concern.
Your protection as a therapist is tops on our list of priorities. MetroHSN asks you to carry liability and auto insurance to protect your livelihood and your ability to travel. While a drug screen cannot provide you insurance, it can help provide you with assurance. Should one of your patients lose or misplace his prescription medication, you have the assurance that we have thoroughly checked out your background and have a clean drug screen on file for you. That isn’t to say that you can’t contract through MetroHSN if you screen positive for one of the prescription drugs on our list (of which there are many), but we do require that our contract physician review any positive results and consult you about any positive findings. MetroHSN does not require anything from the physician other than a “go” or “no go”.
If a therapist screens positive for illegal substances or does not have a prescription for a drug for which he or she has screened positive, MetroHSN cannot take on the potential liability of having said therapist contract through our service, nor can we reasonably expect the client sites to take on that liability themselves. Client sites that hire their own therapists usually conduct a drug screen upon hire, and as-needed thereafter; these drug screens cover the clients’ own particular regulatory obligations. However, the purpose of supplemental staffing for most clients varies and can be sporadic. Sometimes a client will need supplemental therapy staff for a day, a week, a month, or a year and then not again for a very long time. Clients need their regulatory and human resource requirements to be met no matter how long the gap between assignments. The client sites usually cannot, or will not, accept drug screens that are more than a year old. In many cases, the need is immediate and the client cannot wait 24 to 72 hours for a therapist to have a specimen collected and screened. Therefore, having a drug screen run on each therapist at least once a year helps MetroHSN provide relief/supplemental therapy staff to clients as quickly as possible.
Patients and families should be concerned first and foremost with actual therapy sessions and completing any independent exercises for the patient’s continued health and improvement. Clear-headed and competent professional care should be a given for patients and families. Annual drug screens are another way to give the people who matter most the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are being cared for by therapy professionals who are not working under the influence of illegal or recreational drugs.
In short, illegal substance abuse becomes a liability for the therapy professional, for MetroHSN, for any client, and ultimately for the patients who trust therapy professionals to help them. Annual drug screens give a measure of assurance for therapists by establishing a record of negative screens, which also provide vital pieces of vetting requirements for client site usage. In addition, patients and their families can be at ease regarding therapy professional drug use. While the drug screen takes a little bit of time out of a therapist’s busy schedule to complete, the benefits of having that clean screen on file far outweigh the temporary inconvenience.
May 30, 2012 – Autumn Kerrigan, Director of Support Services