Policy and Procedures on Drug Screens for Health Professions Programs

Revised April 2019

Purpose

The School of Nursing (SoN), Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine (SoM), and School of Health Sciences (SHS) recognize that substance abuse is a significant public health problem in the United States, and that drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50 years of age. Unfortunately, the health risks and criminal matters that affect so many individuals include health care providers. Substance abuse may affect the ability of a health care provider to deliver safe, high-quality care. All providers have the legal and ethical responsibility to uphold the law that protects society from drug abuse.

This policy influences and augments the student’s ability to maintain personal and professional integrity and facilitates the student’s success both clinically and didactically. It promotes a healthy learning environment for the student. In the clinical setting, this policy enhances patient safety. It also fosters the development of professional health care providers who are well educated about the prevalence, adverse outcomes and responsibilities related to substance abuse. 

For all items in this policy, the primary dean’s representative is as follows (but alternative designees may be named, as appropriate): 

The appropriate dean’s representative for SoN is the assistant dean for student services.
The appropriate dean’s representative for SoM is the associate dean for student affairs.
The appropriate dean’s representative for SHS is the assistant dean for career development.

Incoming students from all programs must read this policy as a condition of acceptance into the professional component in their program, whether or not their school/program requires a drug screen prior to matriculation. Addenda may be drafted by any or all of the three schools that modify this policy and its procedures. 

Policy Statement

This policy applies to all students who have matriculated in the Schools of Nursing, Medicine and Health Sciences. 

No student may consume or be under the influence of, or in possession of, alcohol or drugs, which may impair the student’s ability to function safely while engaged in academic activities, regardless of venue. Students taking prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication are personally responsible for ensuring that, while taking such drugs or medications, they are not a safety risk to themselves or others while engaged in academic activities, regardless of venue. Improper use of alcohol or other unauthorized substances in the academic or clinical setting will result in immediate removal from that setting and may result in dismissal from the program. Students also must comply with all local, state and federal laws and regulations, as well as Quinnipiac University policies, regarding the possession, manufacture, use or distribution of controlled or illegal substances and alcohol.

A student who has a break in enrollment (e.g., academic or other leave of absence, suspension, etc.) must repeat a drug screen prior to beginning classes using the guideline in Figure 1.

In programs that require a negative drug screen prior to matriculation, final program acceptance is contingent upon drug screening clearance as listed in Figure 1. If a student does not submit their drug screen prior to program’s deadline, that student risks delaying their start and may lose their seat in the program and forfeit their deposit.

A drug screen or repeat drug screen may be required as a condition of clinical or fieldwork if requested by that facility. Timelines for completion of this screening are solely at the discretion of each contracted facility and are subject to change without notice. Students are required to comply with the requirements of their assigned clinical sites. A student may be required to have multiple drug screens during the course of his/her enrollment in clinical and/or fieldwork. Costs associated with these screenings are the responsibility of the student. Students who are employed at an agency where they may also be doing clinical or fieldwork as part of the curriculum must comply with this drug screening policy regardless of whether a drug screen was completed as part of the employment process. 

In either instance listed above, a negative dilute result is not an acceptable result; any student who has a negative dilute result on a drug screen is required to repeat the drug screen at their expense within 5 business days of receiving notification from the dean’s office.  

Any matriculated student found guilty of an alcohol or drug-related offense, including a Quinnipiac Code of Student Conduct violation, or other conviction that may affect the student’s ability to deliver safe, high-quality care, will face sanctions up to and including dismissal from the school. If the confirmed offense involves unlawful possession, use, manufacture, distribution, diversion or improper use of any substances, the sanction is immediate dismissal from the program.

Students who are arrested for an alcohol or drug-related offense and who are matriculated in the Schools of Nursing, Medicine or Health Sciences must notify the appropriate dean of the event, in writing, immediately and no later than the same day the student returns to classes. If the student is enrolled in a clinical or fieldwork course, notification in writing to the appropriate dean is due no later than 24 hours prior to the assigned clinical or fieldwork day. No student with an arrest may attend a clinical or fieldwork experience until cleared by the dean. 

A police report of the arrest must also be submitted to the appropriate dean within 10 business days. Students failing to follow the guideline for notification of an arrest and submission of a police report will face sanctions up to and including dismissal from the school.

Procedures

Figure 1: Timing of Drug Screen Requirements

School Timing of Drug Screen Requirements
School of Medicine All students – Year 3 before clerkship
Anesthesiologist Assistant students – Prior to orientation
School of Nursing Full-time undergraduate students – Prior to the junior year and then annually in July and as required by the clinical site
Accelerated students – Prior to program orientation and then annually and as required by the clinical site
Graduate Program: MSN Nurse Practioner – Prior to program orientation and then annually and as required by the clinical site
Graduate Program: BSN to DNP Nurse Anesthesia – Prior to program orientation and then annually and as required by the clinical site
Online Nursing Programs – August 24 prior to beginning fall semester and then annually and as required by the clinical site
Students matriculating in spring/summer – Prior to beginning spring/summer semester classes and then annually and required by the clinical site
School of Health Sciences Athletic Training/Sports Medicine – As required by assigned clinical site
Cardiovascular Perfusion – On entry, recheck prior to start of clinical assignment
Diagnostic Medical Sonography – Prior to program orientation
Occupational Therapy – As required by assigned clinical site
Pathologists’ Assistant – As required by assigned clinical site
Physician Assistant – Between May 13-31 prior to the start of clinical rotations
Physical Therapy – As required by assigned clinical site
Radiologist Assistant – Prior to start of clinical assignment
Radiological Sciences – Required
Social Work – As required by assigned clinical site

Testing Procedure 

The university will designate the approved vendor (Certiphi Screening, Inc.) to conduct drug screens; students are responsible for payment of any fees charged by the vendor. All issues will be reported from the vendor(s) directly to the designee for the dean of the appropriate school. Results from vendors other than those designated by the university to conduct drug screens are not accepted. Incoming and current students must contact the designated vendor(s) and comply with instructions in obtaining a drug screen. Be advised that students should not drink coffee or too many fluids prior to their lab visit as these may cause a negative dilute result. As stated above, a negative dilute result is not acceptable; students with a negative dilute result are required to repeat the drug screen at their own expense.

Laboratory testing includes collection of the sample, transport to the laboratory, EMIT analysis, GC/MS confirmation by a SAM HSA-certified laboratory, and a test review by a medical review officer, if required. Students need to plan accordingly so that results are available by the deadline set by each school’s dean or dean’s designate. If results are not available prior to the deadline, the student will risk being dismissed after classes have begun. If results are not available prior to the start of a scheduled clinical experience, the start will be delayed, which may result in forfeiture of the clinical assignment.

Incoming and current students have the right to review the information contained in any drug screen required by the university for accuracy and completeness. A student may request verification of the accuracy of these reports from the designated vendor(s). The designated vendor(s) will advise the student of their rights and assist with verifying the accuracy the report. It is the responsibility of the incoming or current student to ensure that any misinformation in the initial drug screening report is corrected with the vendor and that a written statement with supporting documentation indicating the correction is submitted to the appropriate dean or dean’s designate.The designated vendor(s) are not involved in any decision made by the university. 

Drug screening reports and other submitted information are confidential and may only be reviewed by university officials and affiliated clinical or fieldwork facilities with a legitimate educational interest in the material in accordance with the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Drug screening reports and other submitted information of incoming and current students are maintained in the designated office in accordance with the university’s record retention schedule for student records. Drug screening reports and other submitted information of applicants denied admission into the program are maintained in accordance with the university’s record retention policy.

Drug and alcohol testing required by the Schools of Nursing, Medicine and Health Sciences are conducted utilizing the following measures: 

  1. The student must be tested at a facility of the approved vendor.
  2. The student must comply with the testing facility’s methods and procedures for collecting samples.
  3. A Fourteen Panel Drug Screen is required and screens for the use of the controlled substances listed below.
Urine Drug Screen Screen Cutoff GC/MS Cutoff
Amphetamines 1000 500
Barbiturates 300 200
Benzodiazepines 300 300
Cocaine 300 150
Methadone 300 300
Methaqualone 300 300
Opiates 300 300
Oxycodone 100 100
Phencyclidine 25 25
Propoxyphene 300 200
Buprenorphine 10 10
Fentanyl 2000 500
Cannabinoids 50 15
MDMA 500 250
  1. Urine testing is the primary method for drug screening.
  2. Serum, hair and saliva analysis or a combination of these may be tested to further validate or clarify urine results.
  3. The student will disclose any prescribed and over-the-counter medications, as well as any dietary habits that could modify the testing results. 
  4. If there is a positive result for a prescribed medication(s), a Certiphi medical review officer (MRO) will contact the student and ask for documentation of the student’s prescription. If the MRO determines that the student provided appropriate documentation, the university will recognize the result as a pass. Quinnipiac will not receive a copy of the documentation.  
  5. If the clinical site requests that the student send a copy of their drug screen report to that site, the student is responsible for sending their results, and the clinical site has the right to deny the student the clinical assignment on the basis of the results. If the student refuses to send their results to the site, then the clinical assignment will be forfeited, and the program’s policies will apply.  
  6. As per university policy, Connecticut state law permits the use of medical marijuana, however, in accordance with federal law and as a recipient of federal funding, the university does not permit the possession, use or distribution of marijuana. As such, students in possession of medical marijuana (issued in Connecticut or any other state) are not permitted to use or possess marijuana in any form on university owned or leased property, or at any university-sponsored programs, internships, externships or clinical assignments. 
  7. If the accuracy of a positive test is disputed by the student, the student may request a retesting of samples by the facility; the cost of which to be borne by the student. Testing done outside the appropriate window of time will not be considered valid. 
  8. Substance abuse is verified if either: a) the positive test result is not disputed or b) if the student-requested retest is positive.
  9. If the test is inconclusive (e.g., a negative dilute urine test result) or a retest is requested by the agency or by the faculty for cause, the student will not be permitted to conduct fieldwork or clinical until a conclusive negative result is received. The student may be allowed to attend classes while a result is pending, upon the approval of the dean’s office.
  10. Students with samples yielding a urine dilute result must be re-tested within 5 business days of receiving notification from the dean’s office. The student is required to complete an alternative method other than urine testing if a second urine dilute result is found. 
  11. The testing facility will make a final report of the test results (positive, negative or inconclusive) to the appropriate dean’s office.
  12. A student who is required to and submits to a drug and alcohol screening will be expected to authorize the release of the results to the school, other relevant university offices and clinical agencies, if requested.

Drug Screening Clearance

The names and test results of all students will be forwarded to the reviewer designee for the school. A drug screen clearance will be reported to the appropriate program with the date of the test.

Drug Screening Non-Clearance

Any student who does not receive drug screen clearance will receive an email notification and certified letter from the dean’s office notifying the student that they have not been cleared.

A student who has failed a drug screen or received a negative dilute result is required to repeat the screening and is not allowed to attend clinical training or fieldwork until cleared. Students must be re-tested within 5 business days of receiving notification from the dean’s office. The student is required to complete an alternative method other than urine testing if a second urine dilute result is found. The student is responsible for payment of any fees charged by the vendor(s) for such testing.

Clinical and/or fieldwork rotations are an essential element in the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and School of Health Sciences. Students who cannot participate in clinical or fieldwork rotations due to a third failed drug screen are unable to fulfill the requirements of the program and will be dismissed.

Appeal Process

If the incoming student or current student is denied admission to or continuance in his/her program, the student may appeal that decision to the dean of the school. All requests for appeals must be made in writing by the student within seven (7) business days of the student’s notification by the reviewer designee. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate the appeal process by emailing or sending by post a written request to the dean. Should the appeal be approved, the student will be required to sign the Student Waiver Regarding Drug Screening Results  before continuing in the program. 

Once a final decision is made regarding the student’s appeal, including removal from clinical, leave of absence, and dismissal from the program, the dean will immediately notify the student by email and by certified letter. The dean’s office will copy all related correspondence to the chair, program directors and clinical coordinator(s) of the respective programs.

The decision of the dean regarding the ability of an incoming student or current student to enter into or continue in a professional program is final and cannot be appealed. Admissions and appropriate program chairs will be notified of the decision.

Maintenance of Records and Confidentiality

Information obtained for the purpose of conducting a drug screen or obtained during the drug screen will be retained by the Office of Student Affairs, separate from other student educational and academic records. Confidentiality will be maintained consistent with FERPA guidelines. In the event a clinical site requires a copy of any report, students must either email a copy of their report themselves to the requesting facility or sign a release form for the vendor(s) who will submit the report to the email address of the person authorized to receive it.