Although, Laboratory Billings usually don’t ask for the consent of the patient before carrying out any test. However, they conduct these tests while considering the technical limitations and medical necessity of the test. But when it comes to substance abuse/ drug tests_ patients feel more concerned about it.
A doctor can perform a drug test, even if it isn’t involved in the health coverage plan of the patient so he/she can charge them a lab medical bill as well.
Can It Harm The Patients?
Absolutely not! Because doctors never conduct such medical services without any need. Even if you think that a provider can bring in more revenue by charging excessive payment in the lab bills_ You Are Wrong.
If you’ve read your medical bills carefully, then you can see that it contains a portion where the medical necessity of healthcare services is mentioned clearly. Also, when providers send their medical claims to the healthcare insurance companies then they also inquire about the purpose of healthcare services before paying the providers.
So it leaves no room for excessive payments at all. That’s why conducting a drug test doesn’t bother the patients monetarily as well as ethically.
Why Do Doctors Conduct Drug Tests In Such A Way?
As I mentioned earlier that they can’t perform any diagnostic test without considering the technical issues involved. The technical issues may contain but not limited to;
- The Lack of chain-of-custody procedures.
- The possibility of false-positive results with screening immunoassays.
- The infrequency of confirmatory tests.
Although it can give rise to multiple ethical issues for healthcare providers due to the following reasons.
- The very sensitive nature of drug tests for patients and providers all along.
- As a result of false-positive tests.
- Limitations that are imposed on confidential PHI ( protected healthcare information).
- And Yes, most importantly the consent of the patient.
However, doctors usually conduct these drug tests without adding them to the knowledge of the patients if they suspect any substance abuse. They don’t do it deliberately but it has just become a norm in the healthcare industry.
Whenever clinicians suspect substance abuse or drug overdose in a patient then they have to quickly conduct a test. So they can readily prescribe you medication and streamline your medical treatment.
Although, there is no personal benefit for healthcare providers in such a case because it can also lead them to face privacy and safeguard issues.
Usually, doctors look for the assistance of laboratories to perform or exclude a diagnostic test, screen for an ailment or to align treatment plans. Because substance abuse itself could be the major cause of several disorders such as;
- Myocardial Infarction.
- Coronary Diseases.
Therefore, if physicians don’t find an obvious reason for these ailments then they have to conduct a drug test to identify the root cause. So they can also proceed with urine screenings for those patients who show the signs of drug overdoses.
When Are Labs Allowed To Conduct Drug Tests?
Laboratories can perform substance abuse tests for non emergency clinical settings as well. However, I can’t tell what is the exact frequency and utility of lab tests for substance abuse.
Also, there are some particular situations that make clinicians surge to conduct particular tests and identify if it is a case of a drug overdose. For instance, if a patient has taken an excessive dose of a drug that is causing illness such as diabetic ketoacidosis. Also, it can lead to several compilations for a woman during pregnancy such as;
- Placental abruption.
- Intrauterine Growth retardation.
Although the latter one is used by pregnant women to ensure the health of newborns still its excessive usage can bring about negative results.
In such cases, healthcare providers acquire the help of lab professionals to carry out important tests and obviously, they’ll charge certain amounts in the lab bills.
What Is The Impact Of Drug Tests?
If a patient is going through such problems that arise due to acute drug overdose then he/she might need immediate treatment. For instance, if substance abuse has led the patient towards naloxone for heroin overdose then even a little delay can cause further serious complications.
However, physicians don’t find it appropriate to start new medication before eradicating the old problems. In that case, a drug test can be a life savior for the patient who is suffering from critical medical conditions due to excessive drug consumption.
Therefore, many medical emergency systems and emergency department protocols use a “cocktail” approach for the suspected patients. In this approach, clinicians keenly monitor naloxone and other substances in the patient’s body.
Although we can understand that drug tests can just describe the specific aspects of the complete treatment. So we can’t say that only drug tests can drive 100% positive results from medical treatment. It’s just that somehow it can contribute to reduce some of the potential risks and identify the problems that occur due to drug overconsumption.
So if you want to abstain from excessive lab medical bills then keep yourself refrain from drug overdose (a piece of advice for better health and finances).
Is It Legal To Not Consider The Patient’s Consent?
Currently, there is no law that requires the explicit consent of the patient for drug testing. However, clinicians can consult while prescribing the patients directly for the test. Although, more often they don’t do that.
The primary reason is that if a patient is suspected to be a drug addict but he/she might refuse a test. Then it could be dangerous for their health to carry out another medical treatment.
Therefore, physicians just conduct this test by not adding it to the knowledge of the patients. Sometimes, when patients come to know that they have been diagnosed with substance abuse then they might feel betrayed. (Although, they should not).
So yeah! It can impact the patient’s-doctor relationship negatively but not on the health of the patients. To be honest, a healthcare facility is just made to make sure the better health and care of the patients. So in that case, most of the doctors feel it just fine.
How do you feel about it? What are your concerns about such tests that are processed without the consent of the patients? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.