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Does an RN need a medical order to collect a urine sample for a drug screening test?


Do I need a medical order to collect a urine sample for screening a drug test?


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Ruby,

Your question is difficult to respond to due to a lack of details, but some general comments can be made. Initially, an RN cannot order tests without a physician, an advanced practice nurse or other healthcare provider who is authorized to order medications and treatments. The order can be oral, written or a standard protocol in your practice setting, such as the ED, substance abuse treatment unit or correctional facility. The order should document why the test is being done and the order done pursuant to facility policy.

If you are an advanced practice nurse, you certainly can collect a urine specimen for testing, if within your scope of practice as an APN and consistent with your specialty area of practice.

In addition, any urine test collected for drug testing must be collected pursuant to specific procedures so that the specimen is not compromised in any way, including the specimen being actually from the person, labeled correctly, a chain-of-custody protocol followed and proper storage of the specimen once obtained.

You can read more about the importance of collecting a urine sample for drug testing. One reference includes: (Lowry 2010), “Expert Gives Tips On How To Collect Urine Screen For Drugs,” at



About Author

Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.

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