New Law Requires Reporting of Healthcare Workers Who Fail or Refuse Drug Tests

A law passed this year by the General Assembly and effective July 1 requires reporting to the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) by employers of any licensed, permitted or certified healthcare workers who fail or refuse a drug test.

As written, the new law establishes the following process when a healthcare worker tests positive for any drug on a drug test or refuses such a test:

  1. Within three business days of being notified of the positive test or refusing the test, the healthcare worker must:
  • provide to the employer a lawful prescription or valid medical reason for using the drug; or
  • report to the substance abuse peer assistance or treatment program for their respective profession/licensure board.
  1. If the employer takes disciplinary action against the employee or in the event the healthcare worker does not meet the requirement(s) in item 1 above, the employer is required to notify TDH of the positive drug test or refusal to submit to such testing.
  1. For a healthcare worker who does report to a substance abuse peer assistance or treatment program, in the event the worker does not maintain participation in the program, there is no expectation or responsibility on the employer to report this situation.

Under the law, TDH is authorized to issue an emergency order suspending or restricting the healthcare worker’s license.

The new law further allows a quality improvement committee to share information related to substance abuse by a healthcare worker with another quality improvement committee as part of the functions of such committees.

The law can be viewed in its entirety here.

If you have questions, please contact us as indicated below.

Chris Clarke

Joe Burchfield