Cody Regional Health’s decision to stop random employee drug testing for THC (marijuana) should be of great concern to patients.
From the reporting, it seems the basis of their decision centers on replacement costs of terminated employees rather than the safety of patients. Part of the justification stated was that at least 12 of 24 other hospitals don’t random test. That should be alarming.
The January 9 and March 14 Enterprise articles do not give an accurate picture of this issue. It was reported that CRH “continues to see an increasing number of employees test positive for THC in monthly random drug tests.”
What? There was no discussion about the dangers impaired employees pose to patient safety. The solution? Get rid of the testing. Really?
About terminated employees, CRH’s HR Director stated, “They were great employees … vital to the operation … they got dragnetted in the random screening process and we lost them.” Isn’t that what a random screening process is for? In the director’s view the problem isn’t that “vital” employees are using impairing drugs, but that they were caught. Employees knew conditions of employment and chose to use drugs anyway, yet the HR director places the blame on the testing process “dragnetting” “great employees.” Solution? Again, get rid of the testing process.
CRH’s HR director went on to relate several misleading statements about cannabis and THC saying it’s a legal gray area. He states that some products containing THC and CBD are legal in Wyoming. Any cannabis products containing more than .3% THC are federal and state classified Schedule I prohibited drugs. No “gray area” here. Since CBD products are not approved for sale by the FDA for ingestion, these products may contain higher levels of THC than allowed and cause a positive THC drug test.
It’s surprising that at a hospital with licensed medical professionals, there does not seem to be awareness of the dangers of THC. The euphoric (high) phase of THC, where some impairment may be obvious, lasts from 6-12 hrs. Unlike alcohol, where impairment rapidly decreases to zero at a predictable rate, the adverse cognitive and motor impairments caused by THC measurably continue for much longer, up to several days. A person who drinks only in the evening, and shows up to work sober the next day, may not feel great, but that’s not the same as the THC user who appears sober but throughout the shift will continue to have lack of focus, impaired reaction times, slowed motor skills, decreased motivation, impaired impulse control and executive cognitive thinking (judgment) for up to several days. If the employee is using THC daily, or even using only several times a week, they are in a constant state of decreased performance.
The higher THC potency of today’s cannabis products only enhances and prolongs these long-term effects. So it appears that CRH isn’t concerned that their “vital” employees may not be functioning at the highest level. What could possibly go wrong in the hospital environment? It’s not like anyone’s lives are at risk!
If CRH is concerned about their bottom line they should consider why Workman’s Comp charges a premium for not having random drug testing. Could it be that they know that impaired workers have higher rates of injuries? Also, the cost of a liability lawsuit caused by an impaired employee could be in the millions. Finally, we should all be asking, does CRH really have patient safety as a priority? The recent social aspects of normalizing the use of THC hve somehow influenced decision-makers to believe it’s a problem created by the laws and not the actual effects of the drugs.
We believe patients have the right to expect their caregivers are not impaired. Random, unannounced drug testing is the gold standard to discover non-compliance. Mandatory termination may not be the best answer. Maybe suspension, along with required treatment/counseling, and upon return to work routine drug testing would give those “great … vital” employees a second chance.
(WYCAN - Wyoming Citizens Against Normalization includes Carol Armstrong, Dona Becker, Charlotte Carlton, Richard B. Jones, Dan Laursen, Sheila Leach, Dave McMillan, Donna Merkel and Rachel Rodriquez-Williams)
Someone who was binge drinking the night before is more cognitively impaired then someone who smoked a j the night before. Smh.
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