Essay: Random Drug Testing Medical Professionals

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Random Drug Testing Medical Professionals (Why should we randomly test medical proffessional?)

Randomly testing medical professionals is an ongoing debate in the medical community. Whether or not it should be done depends on the medical facility's budget and the need for the practice to be implemented. In the United States and some other counrtries, the economy is in recession and has been for several years. Due to this recession, budget cuts have become mandatory for most places, especially hospitals. In fact, several hospitals have shut down and been replaced with businesses. Therefore, it would be in the best interest of medical facilities to not use random drug testing on medical professionals due to its cost. Random drug testing is just one of many avenues a hospital or medical facility can take to check on its staff.

It has been proven many times over that people who undergo random drug testing do not usually have a problem. Medical staff who do, should be monitored and screened on a regular basis instead of only through random drug testing. A simple way to monitor medical staff is to perform monthly evaluations. An easy survey given to patients on their way out from seeing a doctor can also allow the monitoring of medical professionals without needing to spend too much on supplies or additional staff.

An example of this kind of monitoring is performed at the Sinai-Grace Hospital. Here, residents are evaluated monthly for performance in an online setting, eliminating paperwork. "Monthly evaluations of resident performance are done using a standardized web-based evaluation system" ("Evaluation and Feedback | DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital," n.d., p. 1) This is a very quick and effective way to monitor someone without having to use additional staff and/or supplies.

Another facet of this evaluation is person to person evaluation. At Sinai-Grace Hospital, residents are also evaluated every three months. "Residents also meet with their faculty advisors every three months to review their academic progress in the training program. These sessions include feedback on resident performance and also career mentoring." ("Evaluation and Feedback | DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital," n.d., p. 1) The feedback usually given to these residence helps them perform better and learn more. If this method is applied to other medical professionals like nurses and doctors, random drug testing would just be a wasteful and unnecessary expense. Hospitals and medical facilties want effective results without expending their budget.

Some might say: "Well isn't random drug testing accurate? Won't it be able to tell whether or not someone has taken drugs?" Although drug testing can determine whether or not someone is taking drugs, the degree of accuracy depends heavily on the staff equipped to handle the collected specimens and the person who takes the test. Tests that use urine are very easy to falsify if participant use someone else's urine. Also the window of time for certain drugs to be identified in the blood stream is as little as 3 days. "Depending on the person and the substance used, there is usually up to 3 day window of detection. Urine drug test kits are easier to adulterate than other drug test kits." ("Pros & Cons of Drug Testing Methods," n.d., p. 1) So to recap, random drug testing needs additional funding not just for the supplies needed to adminster the tests, but additional staff to monitor and check for accuracy.

There are definite pros to drug testing, but there are just as many cons. One pro-is providing concrete evidence to form a case against a bad doctor. Of the evaluations discussed prior, these methods only provide circumstantial evidence that need further investigation to be proven. Drug testing allows for proof to exist to determine incompetency from a medical professional. Although there is merit to drug tests, one major con relates back to accuracy. There needs to be active monitoring when it comes to checking the results of a drug test. The reason behind this is the occurrence of false positives and false negatives. Although these instances are not common, they do occur and additional testing must take place in order to prove whether or not the person being tested is on drugs. This sort of consequence wastes valauble time and money and does not aid a hosptial or medical facility in saving time or money. Most medical personnel are overworked as it is and do not need the extra workload.

To increase accuracy in drug tests one can try the hair drug tests. These tests detect drug use more accurately but require an additional lab to process it. "The main disadvantage of hair drug testing is the fact that you need a lab to run the test and generate the results." ("Pros & Cons of Drug Testing Methods," n.d., p. 1) In the end hosptials and medical facilities want to reduce costs. They do not want methods that will constantly create burdens on the already diminishing budget. This is perhaps the biggest drawback to random drug testing.

Random drug testing may be interpreted as a cost-effective way to monitor medical professionals compared to routine drug testing. This claim although true in that regard is not true next to everything else. Random drug testing although performed less than routine drug testing, is still costly because of all the equipment and supplies needed to perform the tests. It not only takes time to process the results, but it takes time from medical professionals who usually have a very busy schedule.

Another reason one might justfiy randomly testing medical professionals is because of the media attention on malpractice lawsuits and the horror stories of doctors overprescribing medications like Valium and other barbituates. Yes there are doctors who indeed do this kind of behavior, most of them are not under the influence of drugs. In fact some have confessed to have done what they did because of the need for money and work. Afamous example of this is Dr. Conrad Murray and the death of Michael Jackson.

Dr. Conrad Murray was not under the influence of drugs when he gave Jackson the lethal dose of Propofol. If he got randomly drug tested, there would be nothing to indicate he should not practice medicine. This would have been a false indicator because he clearly made mistakes. Eye witness accounts state how strangley the doctor behaved the night of Jackson's death. "Alvarez was the first security guard to reach Michael Jackson's room after he collapsed, and he claimed Murray instructed him to remove intravenous-fluid bags from the room before the paramedics arrived." ("Michael Jackson Trial: Meet the Witnesses, Attorneys, and Jury - Entertainment & Stars," n.d., p. 1)

What fueled his mistakes was the pay he received from Jackson. Money, not drugs made Conrad Murray feel the need to please his patient at all costs. Simple observation by a trained medical professional could see that what Dr. Conrad Murray was doing was wrong. Propofol isn't usually administered as a sleep aid and that would have been a red flag.

Going back to the claim that drug testing is accurate, there are stories that prove otherwise. Several things can lead to false positives in drug tests. Poppy seeds and cough medicine to name a few, can give false positives because of the chemicals they contain. "Drug tests generally produce false-positive results in 5% to 10% of cases and false negatives in 10% to 15% of cases, new research shows. Eating as little as a teaspoon of poppy seeds - less than the amount on a poppy seed bagel - can produce false-positive results on tests for opioid abuse, according to Dr. Dwight Smith, of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Black Hills, S.D."(WebMD, 2010, p. 1) A false-positive may lead to a costly investigation of the tested medical professional and added costs to the already expensive procedure. It only takes one poppy seed bagel to give a reasonably good doctor several weeks of trouble because of a wrong drug test. Drug testing does not determine and should not solely be used to determine the efficacy of the medical professional's work.

Medical professionals should be evaluated on several things in order to conclude that he/she is incompetent. Patient care, prescription abuse, and communication should be the true indicators of whether or not the medical professional is doing his/her job. Evaluations cover these indicators more effectively than random drug testing or drug testing in general. There are many situations that drug testing cannot cover that will lead to misinformation and incorrect testing outcomes.

Working in a medical setting is stressful. Most do not get enough sleep and are under a lot of pressure. Some resort to cough medication or anti-depressants to help them get through the day. Anti-depressants and cough medicine have been shown to give false-positives in people who are tested. "Cold medications, the antidepressant Wellbutrin and tricyclic antidepressants can trigger false-positive results on tests for amphetamines, according to the review, and the antidepressant Zoloft and the painkiller Daypro can show up as a benzodiazepine problem." (WebMD, 2010, p.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Random Drug Testing Medical Professionals.  (2013, February 26).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/random-drug-testing-medical-professionals/9480842

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