New Tennessee Law Creates New Duty to Report Healthcare Employees Who Fail Drug Tests

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | June 14, 2017

by Stacie Caraway

Governor Haslam has signed a new law affecting health care providers which goes into effect on July 1, 2017.

It provides that “any healthcare employer which employs any person required to be licensed, permitted, certified or authorized by Tennessee law by a board or committee under the division of health-related boards that has humans for patients OR which has employees who are licensed drug counselors, social workers or emergency medical technicians” must promptly report any confirmed positive test for an illegal drug or a controlled substance to the employee’s licensing or certifying board, unless the employee produces a lawful prescription or a valid medical reason for using the controlled substance at issue within 3 business days of the time the employer gives him/her notice of the confirmed positive test or reports to the substance abuse peer assistance or treatment program of the applicable board for the employee practitioner. If one of these conditions is met, the employer does not have to report the employee to their respective licensing board. If they are not, the report must be made, and the applicable board then is authorized to issue an emergency order suspending the employee’s license. (In order for the italicized section above to exempt the employer from this reporting obligation, the employee practitioner must obtain and maintain the advocacy of the substance abuse peer assistance or treatment program, meaning they must comply with the terms and conditions of the program).

Healthcare employers also must report any employee practitioner described above who refuses to submit to a drug test, unless they comply with the italicized language above.

The new law also provides that a quality improvement committee may share information concerning substance abuse by a healthcare practitioner with another quality improvement committee in furtherance of the functions of these committees.

Please contact Stacie Caraway, or any member of our Health Care Practice Group, for further information regarding this new Tennessee law.

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