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Physicians' Attitudes Toward Mandatory Workplace Urine Drug Testing

Stephen J. Lemon, MD, MPH; Dean G. Sienko, MD, MS; Patrick C. Alguire, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(11):2238-2242. doi:10.1001/archinte.1992.00400230056009.
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Background.—  Workplace drug testing programs are being increasingly implemented in both the public and private sectors, and health care workers are unlikely to be excluded from such testing.

Methods.—  A survey of attending physicians' attitudes toward mandatory hospital-based urine drug testing was undertaken in a medium-sized, midwestern county.

Results.—  Seventy-four percent (272/368) of the sample responded. Seventy-two percent of the subjects believed physician drug use to be a minor or nonexistent problem, 38% lacked confidence in the testing procedure, and 60% believed that testing infringed on the physician's right to privacy; yet 87% would submit to testing if required by a hospital. Forty-five percent of respondents agreed with the policy of mandatory testing for physicians with hospital privileges, 34% disagreed, and 21% were uncertain. Respondents were more supportive of mandatory testing of other health care and non—health care occupations than for themselves. Support for testing was greatest for illicit drugs. If implemented, physicians preferred mandatory testing to be performed by hospital medical staff independent of hospital administration.

Conclusions.—  Further education and discussion within the physician community appears to be necessary before widespread mandatory workplace urine drug testing of physicians is implemented.(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:2238-2242)


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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