Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 16, 2012

Stimulant Use Up at Work, Obesity Costs Rising: Quest Study


Times may be good in the healthcare field for jobs and healthcare organizations’ expansions, but there’s also little dark, dirty secrets no one talks about.

More and more drugs are being used by healthcare workers, according to a new study by Quest Diagnostics, the medical testing company.

According to a story by Mickey Meece, the number of employees testing positively for cocaine, amphetamines and other stimulants in the workplace has risen significantly, according to Quest’s annual Drug Testing Index.

Could it be stress? It’s possible. Meece notes that Quest said that cocaine and amphetamines (amphetamine and methamphetamine) are stimulants typically used to make people more alert and less sleepy. One researcher, she writes, suggested people were turning to stimulants to get through overtime or second (and third) jobs.

Workers have been caught stealing prescriptions and in one highly publicized case in Greenwich, Conn., a surgeon was found to have taken a patient’s Fentanyl as she was being prepped for surgery. The surgeon later died of a heroin overdose. 

Quest studied federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers; the general workforce, and the combined U.S. workforce.

An even more disturbing medical trend was announced by Cornell University, Meece reports: 21 percent of U.S. healthcare costs are due to obesity – more than double the previous estimates, according to a new study.

The survey showed that an obese person runs up medical costs that are almost $3,000 higher (in 2005 dollars) than if they were not obese, and nationally, cost the U.S. $190.2 billion per year, or 20.6 percent of national health expenditures, according to Meece.

Previous estimates came in at $85.7 billion, or 9.1 percent of national health expenditures, Meece writes.

Surprisingly, the number of urine tests in the workplace showing up positive has declined by 10 percent since 1988, the study found. For the combined workforce, the overall drug positivity rate from urine tests has dropped from 13.6 percent in 1988 to 3.5 percent in 2011.





Edited by Jennifer Russell






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