If you've changed jobs during the past decade you've probably been
asked for more than your Social Security number.
Workplace drug testing has shot up from less than one-fourth to
more than three-fourths of employers just since Ronald Reagan's last
year in office.
The percentage of employers who require drug testing -- whether
pre-employment, random or after an accident -- was 21.5 in 1987 and
77.7 last year, according to the American Management Association.
As result, a growing number of Oklahoma clinics specialize in
occupational health, of which drug testing is an important component.
Oklahoma City's largest hospital, St. Anthony, has opened five
occupational health centers since 1991.
"It's one of the few growing fields in medicine," said Dr. Melissa
Smith-Horn, medical director for the St. Anthony clinics.
"There are more federal regulations, and companies need access to
experts who know the law, both in workers compensation and OSHA
(Occupational Safety and Health Administration)."
Besides the anchor location at Reno and Meridian, St. Anthony's
takes worker specimens from locations downtown, on-site at Dayton
Tire and Xerox and in Shawnee.
The Shawnee clinic opened one year ago. The nearly 28,000-
population city is home to several manufacturing plants, including
five that employ more than 400.
Occupational health centers and drug testing centers also have
increased in Oklahoma City in recent years.
"A few years ago, we had no competition whatsoever. There may
have been three in the city," said Robin Pritchard, assistant center
administrator for Meridian Occupational Health Center.
Today, Meridian is one of four occupational health clinics
clustered near Reno and Portland, and clinic numbers have grown
The state doesn't regulate clinics that take samples and send them
to independent laboratories. But it does license laboratories that
do the testing of samples from Oklahoma.
Sixty-seven laboratories in Oklahoma and out of state are licensed
to test blood or urine samples from Oklahoma, the health department
said. The department began licensing drug labs in 1994.
The intense competition began about three and a half years ago,
after federal law and transportation regulation changes, Pritchard
She has been with Meridian clinic for a decade, starting about two
years after it opened.
Baptist Medical Center owned it until May, when Meridian merged
with Occupational Health Centers, part of a Dallas-based public
company. The Oklahoma City hospital still owns 49 percent of the
U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for truck drivers
have become increasingly strict, Pritchard said. …