Category : News

Teen using an e-cigarette vaping

The Dangers of Vaping by Teenagers

Teen using an e-cigarette vapingMany middle and high schoolers believe that vaping (the use of e-cigarettes) is less harmful then smoking traditional cigarettes because they get the high from the nicotine, but not the tar and other carcinogens.

This is true to a degree, but for young people there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use can be highly addictive and dangerous to their health.

A Sudden Rise in Popularity

The FDA has acknowledged that it was caught flat-footed by a  tidal wave of teenage vaping. According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, the number of middle and high school students who currently vape has soared to about 3.6 million.

The U.S. Surgeon General reported the use of e-cigarettes surged 900 percent among high school students from 2011 to 2015.  In 2016 more than 3 million middle and high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the past month.

E-cigarettes are sold in more than 7,760 flavors, including apple pie, cotton candy, gummy bear, and watermelon—flavors known to lure younger users. Once those younger users get hooked on nicotine, there’s a good chance they’ll be in for a lifelong habit.

Teen Vaping Statistics
Safe or Not

Are e-cigarettes actually dangerous? While many young people (and adults) see little harm in vaping, the answer is yes.

Exposure to nicotine varies a lot, depending on the e-cigarette device and the e-liquid it uses, as well as the individual vaper’s practices.  But there is substantial evidence that nicotine intake from e-cigarettes, used by experienced adults, can be comparable to that of conventional cigarettes.

The vapor e-cigarettes produce come from heating up liquid “e-juice,” which is added to the devices via refillable cartridges.  In addition to nicotine, the liquids used for e-cigarettes also contain cancer-causing toxic chemicals, heavy metals and ultrafine particles that pose additional health risks.

Nicotine’s Effect on Teenagers

Beyond the risk toxic chemicals may pose, numerous studies have also shown the harm of nicotine itself to teenagers.  A  JUUL cartridge (the most popular brand of e-cigarette) has approximately the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.  Nicotine can disrupt brain development, contribute to future cardiovascular disease and increase the risk of a teen trying alcohol or other drugs.

Nicotine itself is also a highly addictive drug.  This explains why a significant proportion of teens, who have never smoked a cigarette, end up smoking traditional cigarettes after using e-cigarettes.

Conclusive evidence exists that drinking or injecting e-liquids can be fatal; that exposure to the skin or eyes can cause seizures and other serious problems; and that e-cigarette devices can explode and cause burns and other injuries.

What Steps Can Parents Take

Talk to your children early about the serious risks and consequences of using any product with nicotine.  When they hear that vaping is O.K., that it’s not as bad as traditional cigarettes, they need to understand that vaping now can lead to an addiction to nicotine and long term health consequences.  For suggestions on what to discuss go to Vaping’s Impact on Teens.

Kimi HathawayTesting for Nicotine

For parents concerned that their children may be using e-cigarettes, Blackbird Clinical Services can test for nicotine.  Please give us a call at 765-447-8700, or send me an email at KHathaway@blackbirdclinicalsvs.com and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

flu shots

Don’t Become a CDC Statistic this Flu Season

flu shotsThe 2017-2018 flu season was one of the most severe the United States has experienced in decades.

This past flu season approximately 80,000 lives were lost to the flu and flu related illnesses according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of greater susceptibility many of these deaths were either small children or the elderly.

Preventing a Recurrence of Last Year

Each year flu vaccines are developed to address those strains of influenza that are predicted to be most prevalent. The formulations for the upcoming flu season have been changed in two key ways according to the CDC.  The nasty H3N2 strain that sickened many people last year has been updated.  The influenza B virus  targeted for protection in the vaccine has also been changed.

So far, the revamped vaccines look promising based on observations of Australia’s current flu season where these vaccines are now in use.

flu shot vaccineThere is No Time Like the Present to Get Vaccinated

Now is the time to get your annual flu shot. Once you have received a shot, it takes about two weeks for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body.

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. A flu shot or nasal spray can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. In 2017, a study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza.

Getting a flu shot also helps protect more vulnerable populations including the elderly, very young children, pregnant women and individuals with certain allergies who can’t get the vaccine.

A flu shot can come with mild side effects, including soreness, low-grade fever, and muscle aches.  But that’s clearly better than coming down with the full-blown flu, which can knock you out for over a week.

Kimi HathawayBlackbird Clinical Services Offers Low Cost Flu Shots

It is easy and fast to get your flu shot at Blackbird Clinical Service’s office located off S.R. 26 at 2 Executive Dr., Suite D, Lafayette, IN.

You can call for an appointment or just stop in.  Cost for the Quadravalent vaccination is just $27.  Sorry, but we don’t accept insurance for these shots.

Need More Details

We are happy to answer any questions pertaining to flu shots.  Please give us a call at 765-447-8700, or send me an email at KHathaway@blackbirdclinicalsvs.com.

Flu Season Ahead sign

Get a Flu Shot, If Not for You, Then for Them

Many of us balk at getting a flu shot each year for a number of reasons.  We think we are healthy, so we don’t believe we need to be immunized; we think a flu shot will give us the flu (not true); or we just don’t take the time.  In 2017 49% of adults and 59% of children were vaccinated.

flu symptomsEveryone Needs a Flu Shot

If you don’t think you need a flu shot, those around you would disagree.  Especially if you are around young children or older adults who are more susceptible to catching the flu.

Symptoms of influenza usually appear 1-4 days after exposure. This means you are most contagious during the 24 hours before symptoms appear and may be contagious for up to 5 -7 days after getting sick.

Children and Older Adults are Most Susceptible

Last year’s flu season according to the Center for Disease Control was one of the longest, most wide spread and sever in years. They estimate that flu takes between 12,000 to 56,000 lives a year and in the 2017-2018 season a total of 180 pediatric deaths were reported to the CDC.  This number exceeds the highest number of flu-associated deaths in children of 171 during the 2012-2013 season.  Approximately 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination.

sick childPeople 65 years and older accounted for approximately 58% of reported influenza-associated hospitalizations.  Overall hospitalization rates (all ages) during 2017-2018 were the highest ever recorded.

Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Babies under six months can’t get the flu shot, yet they are more susceptible to influenza than adults.

So if not for you, do it for them

Getting a flu shot is easy and inexpensive. And if you don’t think you need one, take a minute and consider those who might contract the flu, if you were to expose them to the virus. Here’s what the CDC recommends:

  1. Everyone 6 months of age or older get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
    Young children, pregnant women, those over 65 years of age, and anyone with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, are at a higher risk for serious flu complications and should be vaccinated.
  2. If you become ill with flu symptoms, the CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours
    after your fever is gone. Try to avoid contact with others when you are sick and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Discard the tissue in the trash.  You can find more details at Taking Care of Yourself.Kimi Hathaway, President/Owner

Blackbird Clinical Services Offers Low Cost Flu Shots

It is easy and fast to get your flu shot at Blackbird Clinical Service’s office located off S.R. 26 at 2 Executive Dr., Suite D, Lafayette, IN.

You can call for an appointment or just stop in.  Cost for the Quadravalent vaccination is just $27.  Sorry, but we don’t accept insurance for these shots.

To Receive More Details

We are happy to answer any questions pertaining to flu shots.  Please send me an email at KHathaway@blackbirdclinicalsvs.com or give us a call at 765-447-8700.

Certified Lab Services

Health insurance claim form

Using Your Health Insurance Could Be Costing You More

In 2017, 84 percent of large employers offered high deductible health insurance plans to their employees and 35 percent of those companies only offered high deductible plans, based on a 2016 Kaiser/HRET survey.

The trade-off for the lower premiums associated with these plans is substantially higher out-of-pocket costs that are incurred before a portion of your medical costs are covered by insurance.

Finding the Low Cost Provider

Health insurance claim formThe onus is now on the patient to manage their medical expenses. The Kaiser Family Foundation found individuals are paying an average of $2,295 and families $4,364 in deductible costs. Now that the first several thousand dollars are coming out of our pockets, it becomes more important to shop around for healthcare services.

Get Tests at Lower Cost Locations

When a health insurance company negotiates with a hospital on how much a procedure or test will be covered, they consider a number of factors.  All of which often make obtaining routine services at a hospital the most expensive option.

If there are outpatient locations in your network, or even private labs outside your network, they are very often considerably less expensive than going to a hospital for the same services.  In a local example the cost of getting a CAT scan at the hospital was over $1400.  The charge for the same CAT scan at an outpatient clinic was $269.

health checkupsUsing Your Health Insurance May Not Always Be Optimum

Most of us believe that large insurance companies negotiate the best rates for their clients.  This is not always the case.  It is worth checking with local labs that do routine bloodwork and other tests to see what they charge. It is not uncommon to find that the hospital’s negotiated rate with an insurance company is higher than the same test from a local lab.

What About My Deductible?

For those with high deductible plans who see a doctor infrequently, chances are most of your medical costs will be out of your pocket. In this situation, shopping for the least expensive option will only save you money, even if you use out of network providers.

If you expect to have surgery, or some other medical procedure, it is more likely that you will reach your deductible.  In this case it may not be as advantageous to use services that are not run through your insurance. If your deductible has been met, it’s also possible your health plan will cover enough of any subsequent medical expenses to make submitting a health insurance claim the preferable way to go.

Blood draw vialsDon’t Shortchange Your Healthcare

Many routine and preventative health services are now included in all insurance plans. These include annual physicals, colonoscopies, mammograms, and vaccinations which are intended to keep you well or catch problems early. Don’t neglect these important tests because you believe with a high-deductible medical plan that you will have to pay for them.  Be sure to know what is offered at no charge in your plan.

High deductible health insurance plans have pushed many of us to manage our healthcare more closely. Dealing with insurance companies and hospitals can be frustrating, but many insurance companies and hospitals now have phone and online resources that provide cost information.  Take advantage of these and stay healthy.  It’s the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family.

Kimi Hathaway, President/OwnerLab Services Blackbird Clinical Provides

The costs of Blackbird Clinical Services lab services are often less expensive than lab services offered through local hospitals or clinics.  We perform the most common lab tests (see below), along with others.

CMP, CBC, Lipid Panel, TSH, Hemo A1C, PSA, Hepatic Function, Renal Function, Total Testosterone, Rheumatoid Factor, Iron Total, STD Panel, OB Panel and Allergy Panels

Please contact me, Kimi Hathaway, at KHathaway@blackbirdclinicalsvs.com with any questions regarding our blood work and lab services.

opioids crop

Can You Read the Warning Signs of Opiate Abuse?

The addiction to prescription opiate drugs used for pain management has become an epidemic, with estimates of anywhere from 26 million to 36 million people believed to be abusing opioids in the United States.

Primarily used in the treatment of chronic pain these drugs are highly addictive.  Even when taken as prescribed they can lead to abuse and addiction.

Common Types of Prescription Opiates

Most individuals who abuse opiates began using them as prescribed by their doctor, but as they quickly develop a tolerance, they start abusing the drugs.  Some of the common types of prescription opiates include:opiod pills

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

Recognizing Opiate Abuse

With the prevalence of opioid abuse, many employers, parents and caregivers are searching for the warning signs that an opiate problem exists. Detecting drug abuse early is the most effective way of preventing an addiction from developing.

Not everyone who uses painkillers becomes addicted. However, a person who abuses drugs in large amounts or over extended periods of time is more likely to fall victim to an addiction.

The most common physical and behavioral signs of opiate abuse are:

  • Having trouble staying awake, or falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Flushed, itchy skin
  • Experiencing euphoria, blurred vision and lightheadedness
  • Withdrawing from social activities that were once enjoyed
  • Sudden and dramatic mood swings that seem out of character
  • Impulsive actions and decision-making
  • Needle marks on arms and legs from intravenous (injected) use
  • Constricted, “pinpoint” pupils
  • May have constipation, nausea and vomiting
  • Engaging in risky activities, such as driving under the influence
  • Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain more prescriptions

opioid-abuse signs

The hallmark characteristics of addiction include intense drug cravings and a strong desire to obtain or use the drug – despite the negative consequences that may occur.  Aside from dangerous health risks, opiate abuse can also interfere with your personal life and close relationships with family and friends.

The Consequences Can Be High

The consequences of opiate abuse often include:

  • Losing a job due to prioritizing substance use over work responsibilities
  • Financial issues stemming from spending too much money on new prescriptions
  • Criminal charges for possessing painkillers without a prescription
  • Damaged relationships with family members, friends and co-workers

If You Suspect Opiate Abuse

If you suspect a co-worker or family member to be abusing opioids, it’s important to get them into a treatment program.  Signs of opioid abuse can often be present very early, and they tend to only get worse over time.  If not controlled, addiction can lead to death from overdose.

When confronted about their abuse, many times the accused will deny they have a problem, feel insulted, get angry, or accuse you of not trusting them. The goal should be to get an addict into treatment immediately so they can be given the proper help to overcome their dependency on opiates.

Kimi Hathaway, President/OwnerHow Blackbird Clinical Services Can Help

Blackbird Clinical Services is a certified drug testing service that can help any employer set up a pre-employment and random drug testing program.  Our experience and knowledge regarding these tests ensures that those abusing drugs are not able to prevent detection by using different avoidance techniques.

Just give us a call at 765-447-8700 and we’ll be happy to arrange a time we can talk about setting up a program to identify opiate abuse at the workplace.

Blood-glucose-finger-prick-test

Detecting Diabetes Early with A1C Testing

A1C testingThe Center for Disease Control reported 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes for the first time in 2015 (the most recent numbers).  As the number of Americans with diabetes or prediabetes grows, it becomes more important that individuals with this disease become aware of their condition and take the appropriate steps to stay healthy and manage their blood glucose levels.

Diabetes Fast FactsIn 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes of which 7.2 million were undiagnosed.  In addition 84.1 million Americans age 18 and older had prediabetes based on their fasting glucose or A1C level.  Nearly half (48.3%) of adults aged 65 years or older had prediabetes.

Early Detection Decreases Long Term Risks

Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems.  Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes.

With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications which can affect your skin, eyes and feet.  Diabetes can also cause high blood pressure, kidney disease and stroke.  Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

Benefits of A1C Testing

Getting out in front and managing your elevated blood glucose levels minimizes the occurrence of complications and allows most individuals to lead normal lives.  Testing provides an average A1C value based on a person’s glucose levels for the previous two months.  An A1C value of 5.7% to 6.4% is considered pre-diabetic, with 6.5% or greater indicating a person has diabetes.

Who should be tested?

Blood-glucose-finger-prick-testThere are a number of symptoms that may indicate you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. These are …

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Kimi Hathaway, President/OwnerIf you experience any of these symptoms, it is recommended you see a doctor immediately.

Blackbird Clinical Services Offers A1C Testing

For a limited time Blackbird Clinical Services is offering FREE instant/finger stick A1C testing.  Contact Blackbird at 765-447-8700 and request a free A1C test and we’ll schedule an appointment for you.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.

 

woman with scale crop 370

It’s Not Just About Watching the Scale

woman holding scaleHaving a healthy body weight is a challenge for many, many people.  Trying to maintain your ideal weight takes a combination of eating right, exercising regularly and being active.

But determining if you are at a healthy weight is not always about just the number on the scale.  There are other means available to help each of us assess what weight is ideal for our height, age, gender and body type.

How Much Should I Weigh?

The CDC estimates 3/4 of the American population will likely be overweight or obese by 2020. The latest figures from the CDC as of 2014 show that more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults age 20 and older and 17% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years were obese.

Individuals who are obese are at a greater risk of developing diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and some cancers.  The risk factors for all these conditions go down when our weight is where it should be.

There are several ways to assess your body fat levels.  Learn more by reading further about these measurement processes and what they can tell you. For a great video on this topic go to “How Much Should I Weigh?” 

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of the most common means of calculating your body fat levels.

BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI is moderately correlated with more direct measures of body fat.  For most people BMI appears to be strongly correlated with various adverse health outcomes consistent with these more direct measures of body fatness.

BMI equationBMI is a person’s weight divided by their height (squared). A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fat content.

  • BMI is less than 18.5, underweight range
  • BMI is 18.5 to <25, normal
  • BMI is 25.0 to <30, overweight range
  • BMI is 30.0 or higher, obese range

Determine your BMI by finding your height and weight in this BMI Index Chart.

Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR)

A waist-hip measurement is the ratio of your waist measurement to that of your hips. You measure the smallest circumference of your waist, usually just above your belly button, and divide that total by the circumference of your hips at their widest part.

For example, if a woman’s waist is 28 inches and her hips are 36 inches, her WHR is 28 divided by 36 = 0.77.  Based on the categories below, she would be at low risk of having cardiovascular heath problems.

Below is a breakdown of WHR linked to risk of cardiovascular health problems.

guy measuring waistFor Men ….

  • Less than 0.9 – low risk of cardiovascular health problems
  • 0.9 to 0.99 – moderate risk of cardiovascular health problems
  • 1 or over – high risk of cardiovascular problems

For Women ….

  • Less than 0.8 – low risk of cardiovascular health problems
  • 0.8 to 0.89 – moderate risk of cardiovascular health problems
  • 0.9 or over – high risk of cardiovascular problems

Various studies have shown that people with apple-shaped bodies, who have larger WHRs, have higher health risks compared to people with pear-shaped bodies who have lower WHRs. An apple-shaped person will have more fat accumulating on the waist, while a pear-shaped person has the fat accumulating on the hips.

Although WHR does not accurately measure a person’s total body fat percentage, or their muscle-to-fat ratio, it is a better predictor of ideal weight and health risks than BMI.

Waist-to-Height Ratio

Another measurement that has proven to be a better predictor of future heart disease and diabetes risk than BMI is waist-to-height ratio.  Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy and overall quality of life. For instance:

  • A man 6ft (72 inches, 183 cm) tall, should keep his waist measurement below 36 inches (91 cm)
  • A woman 5ft 4 inches, i.e. 64 inches (163 cm) tall, should keep her waist measurement below 32 inches (81 cm)

In general it is recommended that women’s waistlines don’t exceed 35”; and men’s should be 40” or less.

Body Fat Percentage

body fat scaleMany experts believe that calculating people’s body fat percentage is the best way to gauge their fitness level because it is the only measurement that includes the body’s true composition.

Any male whose body fat percentage is over 25% or female over 31% is either overweight or possibly obese.

Your body fat percentage is the weight of your fat divided by your total weight. Many gyms and doctor’s practices have devices that can tell you your body fat percentage.

The American Council on Exercise has established these ranges for Body Fat Percentages.body fat % chart

How Can We Help?

Blackbird Clinical Services offers Biometric Testing that will calculate Body Fat % and BMI, along with blood pressure, glucose/blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  To learn more about this service go to Biometric Services and to discuss setting up an appointment go to Wellness Biometric Testing.

sunburst featured image

The Sun … Friend or Foe

sunshine burstAs we start spending more time outside, it is important to understand how the sun’s rays can affect you in both a positive and negative manner.  Taking a few steps to protect your skin, the sun will be seen as a friend, not a foe.

ON THE POSITIVE SIDE

Improves Mood
Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin which is a hormone associated with boosting a person’s mood and helping them feel calm and focused.  When serotonin levels are low there is a greater risk of developing a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Vitamin D with sunBuilds Strong Bones
Exposure to the sun’s rays causes a person’s skin to create vitamin D which plays a big role in bone health.  Low vitamin D levels have been linked to rickets in children and bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia.

Prevents Some Cancers
Although excess sunlight can contribute to skin cancers, a moderate amount of sunlight has cancer preventive benefits.  In studies it has been shown that residents living where there is more sunlight are less likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and colon, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers.

Heals Skin Conditions
According to the World Health Organization, for some, sun exposure can treat several skin conditions. Doctors have recommended UV radiation exposure to treat psoriasis, eczema, jaundice and acne.

ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE

While getting the right amount of sun can benefit your health, too much sun can lead to skin cancer.

Hat, lotion sunglassesSkin Cancers
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Each year in the U.S. over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people. It is also the easiest to cure, if diagnosed and treated early. When allowed to progress, however, skin cancer can result in disfigurement and even death.

Watch for Early Warning Signs
Look especially for change of any kind to the shape, color or texture of moles or skin lesions. Do not ignore a suspicious spot simply because it does not hurt. Skin cancers may be painless, but dangerous all the same. If you notice one or more of the warning signs, see a doctor right away, preferably one who specializes in diseases of the skin.

Early Warning Signs

  • A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored
  • A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
    • changes color
    • increases in size or thickness
    • changes in texture
    • is irregular in outline
    • is bigger than 6mm or 1/4″, the size of a pencil eraser
    • appears after age 21
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed
  • An open sore that does not heal within three weeks

block sun not funPreventing Skin Cancer
Using sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher anytime you are outside is the first step in preventing skin cancer.  But according to the Skin Cancer Foundation sunscreen alone is not enough.  Follow these other skin cancer prevention tips.

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM
  • Do not burn
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you do a head-to-toe self-examination of your skin every month. Skin cancers are almost always curable when found and removed early. If you spot anything suspicious, see a doctor.

prescription drug

Do Drug Abusers Target Your Business?

With all the news surrounding the opiate crisis in the U.S., it won’t come as any surprise that opiates topped the list as the drug that employees used the most while at work.  While sometimes legal, these drugs are considered highly addictive and potentially lethal – with or without a valid prescription – and can be detrimental to workers safety.

70% have used drugs at the workplaceIn an article published in The Business Journals on January 18th, 2018, seven in 10 illicit drug users have used drugs while at work, including opiates, amphetamines and cocaine, according to a survey from treatment website Detox.

Opiates are the most commonly used drug, as 17.83 percent said they had consumed them while at work. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium came in second at 17.05 percent, and amphetamines and cocaine tied for third at 8.53 percent.

Impact of Drug Use at the Workplace

The Department of Labor states that the impact of employee substance abuse is a problem that extends beyond the employee using the drugs.  Co-worker job performance and attitudes are negatively affected.  This is a result of workers reporting that they have been put in danger, have been injured, had to work harder or redo work, or cover for a co-worker.

Small businesses, with inconsistent or non-existent substance abuse policies, are often the employer-of-choice for illicit drug users.  Individuals who can’t adhere to a drug-free workplace policy seek employment at firms that don’t have one.  With about half of the U.S. workforce working for small and medium sized businesses with less than 500 employees, this leads to a substantial number of unsafe and unhealthy work places.

Workplace Drug Testing

Just one mistake or accident caused by a worker under the influence of drugs or alcohol can devastate a small business financially.  That is why it is so critical that every workplace should be doing pre-employment and follow up random drug testing.

Currently 56% of U.S. employers require workers to take pre-employment drug tests, according to Statistic Bain.  This leaves a lot of businesses vulnerable to the mistakes, accidents and injuries caused by drug impaired employees.

National Safety Council (NSC) found healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times higher than for an average employee. Employers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their employees:

  • prescription drugRecognize prescription drugs impact the bottom line
  • Enact strong company drug policies
  • Expand drug panel testing to include opioids
  • Train supervisors and employees to spot the first signs of drug misuse
  • Treat substance abuse as a disease
  • Leverage employee assistance programs to help employees return to work

The annual cost of untreated substance use disorder ranges from $2,600 per employee in agriculture to more than $13,000 per employee in information and communications.

NSC offers a Free Employer Kit that provides information on how to take a more proactive role in addressing opioids in the workplace.  For more information go to Free Employer Kit.

Kimi Hathaway, President/OwnerLet Us Help

Blackbird Clinical Services is a certified drug testing service that can help any employer set up a pre-employment and random drug testing program.  Our experience and knowledge regarding these tests ensures that those abusing drugs are not able to prevent detection by using different avoidance techniques.  For more on our drug testing capabilities, please go to Drug Screening.

Just give us a call at 765-447-8700 and we’ll be happy to arrange a time we can talk about setting up a program to make your workplace safer and more productive.

Long Haul Truck

DOT Makes Changes to Driver Medical Exams

To meet new Health and Human Services drug testing guidelines the Department of Transportation (DOT) has made changes to its drug testing program regulations. These changes will impact drivers, as well as labs like Blackbird Clinical Services.

[caption id="attachment_1834" align="alignright" width="447"]Long Haul Truck Drug testing changes impact CDL drivers and labs.[/caption]

Updates to Drug Testing Rules

Effective January 1, 2018, the semi-synthetic opioids: hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone, have been added to the testing panel.  The DOT also removed MDEA from the drug test panel and added MDA in its place.

The new rules also clarify that only urine samples can be collected and analyzed for DOT drug testing.

Testing for Sleep Apnea

At this time there is no new law requiring sleep apnea testing as part of the DOT physical for truck drivers. However, DOT does require that truck drivers get a medical examination in order to hold a CDL license. The medical examiner is the one who decides if the driver needs sleep apnea testing.

If diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea, you are considered unsafe to drive and you will lose your CDL until you’re treated for sleep apnea and deemed safe to drive again by your medical examiner. For additional information go to Sleep Apnea Rules.

What’s Included in DOT Medical Exams

Medical examiners who provide DOT physicals must be on the National Registry for the Department of Transportation. They may be a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner.

The examiner will review your health history and ask you to list the medications you take on a regular basis. In addition they will …

  • Check your pulse and blood pressure
  • Perform a vision test
  • Observe your general appearance
  • Examine your eyes, throat, mouth, and ears
  • Listen to your heart and lungs
  • Check for spine deformities
  • Perform a neurological exam
  • Press on your abdomen to check for abnormalities
  • Perform a hernia check

Convenient, Low Cost DOT Medical Exams

[caption id="attachment_1409" align="alignleft" width="141"]Kimi Hathaway, President Kimi Hathaway, President[/caption]

Blackbird Clinical Services provides DOT medical exams.  Our doctor is on the National Registry for the Department of Transportation which is a requirement in order to perform these exams.

Scheduling a CDL exam can be done quickly and at a cost of just $75.  We will also subscribe to ODAPC’s list-serve by the effective date to ensure all screenings are compliant and meet the new regulations.

To schedule your DOT CDL medical exam just give us a call.  If you have questions please email me KHathaway@blackbirdclinicalsvs.com, or give us a call at 765-447-8700.