Do Nurses Get Drug Tested?

Do Nurses Get Drug Tested?


Yes. Nurses get drug tested in the USA during pre-employment and may face a random drug test during their course of employment. Nursing job is the most sensitive and serious role in the hospital and hence it is crucial to remain sober to provide the best care to the patients. 

For nurses to be able to provide extensive care, they must undergo extensive training. Because of this, nurses are frequently required to get drug tested to ensure they are not engaging in illegal drug use.

To understand about nurses drug testing policy, how often do hospitals drug test and do nurses get drug tested in nursing school.

Table Of Contents:

What Is The Drug Testing Policy For Nurses?

The drug testing policy for nurses can vary depending on the hospital or facility. But, most hospitals follow the same basic procedures, regardless of whether the hospital or an outside organization conducts the drug testing. 

As per federal law, hospitals that employ nurses must have a drug testing program. The drug testing program should follow the criteria outlined in the Federal Drug Testing Policy Act of 1988. Moreover, all nurses working in an employment or training situation that the federal government funds may get their drug test as per the federal drug testing policy. 

A hospital might drug test their employees during pre-employment and nurses are not an exception. For example, many hospitals require candidates for nursing positions to take a written exam and provide a drug test before being hired. 

The purpose of drug testing policy for nurses is as follows:

  • To ensure that only qualified people are hired as nurses,
  • To ensure that nurses who provide patient care services are competent to do so, and
  • To keep nursing services safe from the risk associated with illegal drug use.
  • To ensure that the abuse of any drugs or alcohol does not occur on the job.
  • To ensure the patients, visitors, and hospital employees’ safety.

How Often Do Nurses Get Drug Tested?

There is no indication or regulation from the federal government about the time period on how often do nurses get drug tested. It is up to the right of the employer/hospital/facility center to drug test the nurses as per the federal and state drug testing laws. Employers will typically determine the frequency of nurse drug testing based on the individual situation. For example, nurses who work with children and pregnant women may be required to get drug tested more often than nurses having other responsibilities. 

It is due to the greater risk that they pose to patients. Some state hospitals will require a certain number of staff members to get drug tested yearly, regardless of their job type. Moreover, nurses might be subject to drug testing during the following situations: 

Pre-employment testing:

Before a nurse is hired, many employers will require that the nurse provide a urine sample. It is to confirm the nurse's identity and ensure they are free from illegal drug use. 

Pre-employment drug testing is usually done as a means of screening out applicants who have used illegal drugs. It is also carried out to ensure that the nurse is physically capable of performing their job. Hospitals mostly go for a standard 5 panel drug test to identify drug abuse among nurses.

Random testing:

Nurses are sometimes subject to random drug tests. However, this is usually only done in cases where there may be an increased risk of illegal drug use occurring. It might be the case when the hospital or facility has experienced a problem with employees using illicit drugs. 

Also, when indications indicate that a nurse may be abusing drugs, they may be required to take a drug test. Random drug testing is done without advance notice and is generally carried out monthly or quarterly. 

Random drug testing is most commonly conducted because it can identify a nurse who has accidentally abused drugs or may have become addicted to them.

What Happens When A Nurse Fails A Drug Test?

When a nurse fails a drug test, they can face penalties from the workplace or even termination, but the laws vary from state to state. The most severe consequence is disqualification from employment, and the nurse might even lose their license. 

But, in most states, a nurse who fails a drug test will be required to attend an in-patient drug treatment program and present themselves before a court of law. Some states might allow the nurse to plead guilty to possession charges. Thus, nurses who fail a drug test are usually not allowed to work again until they have completed treatment.

Regardless of the drug test failure, nurses must be aware that they are accountable for their actions. They should be aware that their job is at risk and might face legal consequences if found guilty of illegal drug use.

Do Nurses Get Drug Tested For Weed?

Many people assume that nurses do not have to get drug tested for weed because there are no state laws that require it. But, the rules differ from state to state, and, in many cases, nurses will be needed to take a drug test. 

Some states allow nurse substance abuse testing for THC only, and some completely prohibit anyone from being tested positive for THC or any other type of marijuana. Nurses need to know that their state's marijuana drug testing requirements may vary, and they should always check with the nursing board in their state.

Do Travel Nurses Get Drug Tested?

Nurses who typically perform business or professional travel often are required to take a drug test. If a nurse is unsure about getting drug tested for marijuana, they should contact their employer before taking the trip. 

Many nurses working with patients or visitors on the road must be drug tested. Illegal drugs may be brought into the hospital or facility from off-site locations. Additionally, nurses who provide healthcare in a patient's home might be subject to random drug testing by their employer and hospital. 

It is because some hospitals cannot ensure that the nurse will not abuse drugs at home and on their own time. Also, home health nurses visit patients of all ages, including children and the elderly, who may be in more vulnerable situations.

Different countries have different laws regarding drug use. For example, nurses in the UK and Europe are legally allowed to take small amounts of cannabis for medicinal purposes. 

It is crucial to check with your employer or healthcare facility if your country has any special laws regarding drug testing for nurses.

Do Nurses Get Hair Drug Tested?

Hospitals might use a standard five panel drug test to detect drug abuse among nurses, doctors, and other medical staffs. But, with the advancement of technology, employers and hospitals have begun to use hair drug testing. Hair testing can indicate a nurse's drug use over the past few months, say 90 days.

Hair follicle tests are used to detect drugs that the individual might have taken before they started work. Hair follicle tests check for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, PCP (phencyclidine), methamphetamine and designer drugs. They also check for alcohol use and other drugs abused in the last 90 days. 

Although these tests are invasive and cost more than urine drug testing, they are becoming increasingly popular among companies and hospitals. It is because they provide companies and employees with a clearer picture of an individual's drug use. 

Do You Get Drug Tested In Nursing School?

Many colleges and universities require their nursing students to pass a drug test. It is done because most universities have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that students maintain a healthy and safe environment on campus. 

And it also eliminates the likelihood that students will be using drugs while providing services to patients and visitors. Nursing programs usually test during admission and can also test students randomly throughout the year. 

All applicants must pass a drug test to be admitted into the program. Students who test positive for illegal drugs will typically have one more chance to pass the test. They may be required to go through an evaluation and treatment program if it was their first failed attempt or if they do not complete a treatment plan on their own within a specific period. 

Also, nurses who relapse and test positive may be expelled from the program. Moreover, if nursing student consumes prescription drugs, they must inform their school and provide written proof from their physician. They should also keep their medication in a safe place, away from other students.


Nurses must remain responsible while working with patients in all settings. But do nurses get drug tested for that? Of course yes, an abused individual cannot communicate or help others and hence it is the responsibility of the hospital to keep their medical staffs in check. Laws regarding drug testing are constantly changing, and as a nurse, you should always check with your healthcare facility or nursing school when and how you could get drug tested at your hospital or facility.

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