Jeffrey Hartley works long hours as a clinical lab assistant in downtown South Australia. This lab has no Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace policy. Apart from his salary, Jeffrey Hartley also gets a special $2 bonus per case for diagnosing anything above 20 cases per day.1
On an average, Jeffrey Hartley has been diagnosing 35 cases each day consistently for the past two years. Jeffrey’s average day begins at 6 a.m. and he usually has a hearty Australian breakfast. The only difference is that instead of tea he has a coffee with double shot (60 ml) of whisky in it.
No Outwardly Signs of Alcoholism
He diligently arrives at the lab at 8 a.m. (instead of 9 a.m.) and starts his work. By 11 a.m., he is hungry and thirsty again and has a quick sandwich followed by 30 to 40 ml of whisky from the flask he carries. There are three other colleagues working in the same clinic but each has a separate work area and is equally busy with their work. Nobody notices.
All four employees working in the lab area are trying to diagnose maximum number of cases in order to increase their take home pay. In fact, their combined efficiency levels are so high that the doctor who ran the clinic also started accepting cases from other clinics that were unable to cope with the work. The last thing the doctor thought of was the possible requirement for Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace2. After all, this workplace comprises educated people, clinicians, individuals with insight and tertiary degrees! This is the view held by the Clinic’s owner/head doctor.
Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace Would Have Made all the Difference
To cut a long story short, by the time Jeffrey Hartley left the lab at around 7:30 p.m., the 175 ml flask he carried was empty. Unless Jeffrey Hartley opened his mouth very near to someone, there was little chance of his being caught, as he seemed to display no outward signs of drunkenness.
Without any Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace, there was little Jeffrey Hartley needed to worry about3.
Mistakes Brought on by Alcoholism Keep Mounting
Early this year, a doctor who had referred a patient to the clinic that Jeffrey worked at, suspected that the test results were not consistent with the history of the patient.
He requested for a re-check and received a completely different set of results. This led to a formal complaint being lodged and the doctor who owned the clinic began an investigation. Since the faulty diagnosis was done by Jeffrey, all the diagnosis done by him was secretly double-checked by the doctor.
Shockingly, over 60% were found to be erroneous. It appeared that Jeffrey would not wait for the diagnostic machine to complete the cycle of tests and would often write fictitious figures4.
The Consequences of Alcoholism amongst the Staff
When the doctor invited Jeffrey for a private chat, the doctor was further shocked to notice a slurring of speech. Quite clearly, things were not right with Jeffrey. He requested Jeffrey to undergo an alcohol and drug test at another clinic that specialized in alcohol and drug testing.
Jeffrey’s test results came up positive for alcohol and negative for drugs. The doctor-owner of the clinic where Jeffrey worked was shocked at the enormity of the problem and possible legal consequences. He immediately set up a Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace at this stage5.
Today Jeffrey is undergoing treatment at an alcohol rehab centre. The clinical lab Jeffrey worked at has been shut down. A few other clinical labs have set up Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace but most have not bothered to.
CMM Technology supplies quality testing devices and training for individuals regarding drug and alcohol screening. Alcohol and drugs in the workplace can strike anywhere, anytime. And it is always an employers’ job to maintain safety for all. Telephone (+61) 1300 79 70 30 for more information about testing products.
Footnotes and references:
1. Working Alcoholics Cause Headaches for Companies: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/working-alcoholics-cause-headaches-for-companies-61985747.html
2. Detecting an alcoholic: http://www.raisethebottom.com/
3. Spotting unhealthy alcohol use: http://www.addiction-treatment-centers.com/news/a-one-question-test-to-spot-unhealthy-alcohol-use
4. General questions on alcoholism answered: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/FAQs/General-English/Pages/default.aspx
5. Symptoms of alcoholism: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alcoholism/DS00340/DSECTION=symptoms