The Opioid Crisis

It really is an epidemic – the opioid epidemic has forced the government and the medical community to question many policies and practices. Who prescribes opioids, how often to prescribe, what is the balance between medical usefulness and personal harm, and when does use become abuse? The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is so concerned about opioid abuse it has proposed making fentanyl a Schedule I drug. Still, most employers do not address highly abused prescription opioids in their policies and drug testing panel. The DOT & HHS updated their drug test panels to include several semi-synthetic opioids including hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone and 20 states have laws that follow that panel. Modification of your drug testing panel, where required, is a must. Consider modifying it to be your standard panel across all employees and in all locations. That alone, however, is often not enough. If an employee is using or abusing a prescription drug, as an employer it is critical to evaluate how prescription drug use on the job can affect your workplace. Are your employees handling sensitive financial information? Providing healthcare services? Performing physically challenging work? Have significant access to your critical systems? Defining what positions are safety sensitive and creating prescription disclosure programs is something all HR departments should consider for 2018.

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