The Senate voted yesterday to impose mandatory, random drug testing on Veterans Administration doctors and nurses and to require the VA to offer AIDS tests to its patients.

In back-to-back actions, the Senate first refused by voice vote to exempt the VA from a government-wide drug testing order after a 67-to-29 test vote showed a majority backed the program.

Then, the Senate, by voice vote, adopted legislation requiring the VA to offer an AIDS test to all of its 280,000 hospitalized patients who are under 40 years old. An attempt to kill the proposal was defeated, 68 to 24.

The program to test for illegal drug use, backed by the administration and VA officials, would cover doctors, nurses and other employes of the agency.

The AIDS test plan, offered by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), would require the VA to offer the patients the test but would not allow it to be administered without the patient's written consent. Helms' original proposal, which he changed, would have required mandatory testing of all patients.

The two showdowns came during Senate consideration of an omnibus bill providing a variety of new and increased benefits for veterans.

Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) called random drug testing a "simplistic solution" and added "it is not fair to force thousands of workers to take a drug test to prove they are innocent . . . . {Testing} will create a very serious morale problem."

"Why exempt the VA?" Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) asked. "They are dealing with human life."