by Gregory L. Silverman
A New Hampshire law taking effect August 25 requires healthcare employers to take action against substance abuse in their facilities.
The new law requires all hospitals, home healthcare providers, outpatient rehabilitation clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, urgent care centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult daycare centers, birthing centers, dialysis centers, and hospice facilities to “adopt a policy establishing procedures for prevention, detection, and resolution of controlled substance abuse, misuse, and diversion.”
The policy must address certain procedures, including:
- Efforts to monitor storage, distribution, and procurement of controlled substances;
- Voluntary self-referral by addicted employees;
- Coworker reporting;
- Drug testing, including when reasonable suspicion exists (at a minimum);
- Employee assistance;
- Adherence to confidentiality requirements; and
- Practices for investigating, reporting, and resolving drug misuse or diversion.
The new law is a response to a 2012 incident in which an Exeter Hospital radiology technician took syringes containing a narcotic painkiller intended for patients, injected himself with the narcotic, and refilled the syringes with saline to be used in patients. His actions reportedly resulted in a hepatitis C outbreak.
For more information on new laws in New Hampshire, see the September issue of New Hampshire Employment Law Letter.