January 20, 2013

Can Meds Affect Your Drug Screen?

Just a spoonful of sugar

Prior to the start of your travel nursing assignment you may be required to take a drug screen. As cold and flu season bears down on us we often require medication such as over the counter, prescription and herbal to help combat symptoms. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Do these medications affect our drug screen?”

Though most do not, it is still best to be informed and prepared! With that in mind, we have complied some simple steps you can take to prevent any issues during your drug screening.

  1. Keep a record of the prescription medications you have taken recently or are currently taking. (Over the counter medication is not included in the testing process.) Make sure that you have access to the pharmacy information for each of them. The screening itself will test for both the presence of the medication and the amount in your system. As long as the level of the drug in your system is consistent with the way the medication was prescribed, and the prescription is current, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will be able to clear your result and we will receive a “Negative” screen.
  2. Please note that a prescription that is greater than one year from the date it was written is considered expired (even though the medicine itself may still be “in date”). If you still need this medication contact the prescribing physician and request a new prescription.
  3. Do not take someone else’s medication. This short cut to avoid going to the doctor for something as simple as a cough has been the source of heartache for more than one Health Care professional.
  4. If your physician gives you samples, or perhaps you received medication in the ER that did not result in a prescription you can still pass your drug screen. Obtain and keep copies of the record from the visit/treatment to provide to the MRO.
  5. If you do need to speak to the MRO in order to clear your result make sure that you are available for this call. Once the result has been sent to the MRO from the lab they will contact you to discuss the result. You have 24 hours from the initial MRO’s phone call in order to complete this process.