We have now updated our drug screening protocol. The new protocol introduces increased risk management for practitioners being monitored for drug and alcohol misuse.
Under the protocol, all health practitioners who have restrictions on their registration linked to past substance abuse will have routine hair testing in addition to urine testing.
Independent expert Professor Olaf Drummer from Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine provided a Report - Testing for impairing substances in health care professionals (below) to ensure the approach to biological testing in the National Scheme was evidence based and up-to-date. This report has informed the development of the new protocol.
Following recommendations from the expert report from Professor Drummer, AHPRA has engaged a single collection and pathology service that tests at the cut-off limits set by AHPRA rather than those set by the individual laboratories used in each state and territory.
The national pathology service provider, Scientific Diagnostic Services have collection arrangements in each state and territory. Implementation of the service will commence from September 2015 concurrently with the commencement of the drug and alcohol screening protocol.
To help us manage risk and ensure we are using the most up-to-date approaches for testing for drug and alcohol misuse, an expert panel has been established. The panel provides ongoing expert advice on the biological assessment, testing and monitoring of applicants and registrants with drug and/or alcohol misuse, including impairment.
The panel consists of experts in the treatment of drug and alcohol disorders, toxicology and forensic testing of biological samples. It provides advice on the AHPRA drug and alcohol screening protocol, testing methodologies, the schedule of drugs to be tested for, cut-off limits for testing and any necessary additions to the schedule.