General Information FAQGeneral Information About Drug Testing and Drug Testing Kits
- What is an on site drug test?
- What are the advantages of on site drug testing?
- Does on site drug testing reduce costs?
- How quickly can I get test results?
- Which are the best tests?
- What training does the collection site staff need?
- What are the procedures for on site drug testing?
- What is adulteration and how can I guard against it when collecting samples?
1. What is an on site drug test?For the purposes of this document, an on site drug test is defined as a drug test kit that is easily portable and can be administered in a location outside a laboratory such as a work site. It is recommended that an on site drug test meet the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for commercial distribution, as well as the generally accepted cutoff levels for screening specimens such as those in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. An on site alcohol test is a test that is easily portable and that can meet the Federal Department of Transportation guidelines for initial alcohol tests. On site drug and alcohol testing produces rapid, documentable results that do not require sending specimens to the laboratory. On site testing is used because of the advantages of the immediacy of the test results and the reduced costs.
2. What are the advantages of on site drug testing?Drug related health costs, crime, accidents, and erosion of worker productivity cost America billions annually. As we face stronger European community and Pacific rim competition we need new and creative solutions to the drug crisis. Reducing the demand for drugs should be our principal focus. Enlisting our citizens' animosity against drugs and our workers' intrinsic desire to compete should be central to a new strategy. American workers and employers support drug free workplace programs which provide firm and compassionate education, rehabilitation, and drug testing. Drug testing is effective in deterring and detecting drug use and it has been overwhelmingly supported by courts when properly administered.
On site drug testing is a valuable tool in implementing this approach. Recent improvements in technology have produced on site tests with accuracy comparable to laboratory tests. Laboratory tests are expensive and usually take days to get the results. On site drug tests are easy to use and provide rapid, accurate results.
On site testing has a great value where public safety demands immediate results. Drug abuse in public transportation is an area of great concern because of the potential for loss of human life. Studies indicate that we have much to be concerned about. There are similar concerns in health care, manufacturing, and retail workplaces. On site testing can prevent drug abusing workers from using dangerous equipment.
The studies indicate broad public support for workplace drug testing. Many companies that have drug free workplace programs use on site testing.
On site drug testing can reduce the costs of industrial drug testing programs. With on site testing, fewer specimens are sent for expensive laboratory tests because specimens that are drug free do not need laboratory confirmation. This saves the costs and staff time of sending all specimens to the laboratory. Much of the current costs of drug testing can be saved by on site drug testing while continuing to use the laboratories as a corroborative back up for confirmation of only the positive test results.
Under a laboratory-based program most specimens collected, then sent to a laboratory, yield negative results. Even though most specimens are negative, in the laboratory-based program, all specimens sent must be accompanied by chain of custody forms sent in specially sealed tamperproof containers. In contrast, on site tests act as an initial screen which provides immediate and final results on the negative specimens. Although initial chain of custody is performed on all specimen collections, with on site testing, only the positive results need be sent to the laboratory for confirmation. Therefore paperwork, staff time and costs are greatly reduced when eliminating the need to send all specimens to the lab. And since the majority of the specimens will turn out to be negative, not requiring any further action, the savings can be quite substantial.
On site testing has other advantages including its flexibility as to where testing is conducted. In addition, it increases the deterrent effect because it decreases the time between results and consequences. On site testing is a valuable tool because it can be performed right at the employment site or in a nearby doctor's office or occupational health clinic.
On site testing protects the chain of custody: All specimens do not have to be sent to the laboratory with the potential to be damaged or contaminated in transit.
On site testing reduces employee and supervisor anxiety about test results; the on site test results are immediate, providing assurance to the drug free employee that there is no threat to his/her livelihood.
On site tests protect employee confidentiality. The results of the test are immediate and can be communicated to the employee directly and there is a reduced concern that test results will be released improperly in transit from the laboratory or from the company's medical office. This protects the company from liability and the employee from embarrassment.
Drug-free employees can be immediately acknowledged. On site testing produces immediate results and a drug-free condition can be recognized in the presence of supervisors. This builds morale and gains acceptance of this program.
On site testing provides immediate identification of a specific drug and can be a crucial benefit in drug overdose treatment or in an employment safety context. It is also very effective in drug and alcoholism treatment monitoring.
On site testing allows testing to be conducted at a variety of sites. Easily transportable on site tests can go where the employees are. Testing can be conducted at remote worksites thus avoiding the expense of transporting employees and ceasing operations.
Employees that are under the influence can be removed at once from the work site. This reduces employer liability and increases employee safety by preventing accidents. The employee can be taken off duty until the results are confirmed.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) small business expert panel has recommended the use of on site testing. In 1992, the NIDA convened a panel of experts in small business to discuss issues related to drugs in the workplace. One of the recommendations of the panel was to 'make on site testing available to small business'.
The test should be documentable and easy to use, and should have undergone an independent scientific evaluation. A reasonable cost per test unit is also a factor to be considered.
3. Does on site drug testing reduce costs?There are three phases of drug testing; the collection of the specimen, the testing process which consists of a screening test which if positive is confirmed by another test, and the medical review of positive results of the confirmation test. If the screening does not detect drugs the process ends. If a drug is detected and confirmed the results can be sent to a physician (Medical Review Officer) for verification.
A Federal General Accounting Office (GAO) analysis of laboratory drug testing costs in the federal sector indicates a range from $8.90 to over $87.00 for both screening and confirmation tests alone. Not included were the specimen collection costs, shipping charges, and lost time of employees who had to leave their jobs for periods of up to several hours while producing a specimen for testing.
An economic analysis of drug testing must consider the costs of collection and handling, screening and confirmation tests, specimen transportation, and the costs associated with time lost while employees submit themselves for specimen collection. When using TestExpress on site tests many of these costs are saved because collection costs are eliminated and only the positive results must be sent to the laboratory.
4. How quickly can I get test results?When using TestExpress on site tests, results for specimens are available as quickly as 3-5 minutes! - as opposed to days or even weeks waiting for results to be returned from the laboratory. Results for only the specimens that test positive by the screening test can then be sent to a laboratory for further testing by GC/MS.
5. Which are the best tests?The safest on site test to use is an immunoassay test, cleared by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for commercial distribution, such as the TestExpress tests we offer. These tests meet rigorous FDA scientific standards such as demonstration of substantial equivalence to proven reference methods and pre-market clearance. The test should be able to meet generally accepted cutoff levels for drug detection such as those found in the Federal Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Testing Programs. The guidelines apply to millions of employees nationally in both private and public sectors. The use of immunoassay tests under the guidelines, such as the ones offered here at TestExpress, has been upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of N.T.E.U. v. Von Raab.
The immunoassay test is an established technology that has been upheld in many other court decisions. All employment immunoassay tests that are positive should be confirmed by an alternate technology. In a pre-employment context, however, confirmation may not be necessary since there is no legal relationship between applicant and employer.
The immunoassay method is so accurate that some courts have found confirmation with an alternate technology unnecessary in employment drug testing. In addition, courts have approved of criminal justice drug testing programs that confirm positive immunoassay results with a second immunoassay, or allow the test result to be unconfirmed. On site drug tests, including our TestExpress tests, have been approved by the American Probation and Parole Association Drug Testing Guidelines.
6. What training does the collection site staff need?It is imperative that the collection site staff know and understand their responsibilities. The company should provide written guidelines to the collection site staff and require compliance with all applicable requirements as part of the contract.
Staff should receive training on preparation of the collection site, sample collection and examination for tampering or adulteration, test administration, proper labeling, and preservation of chain-of-custody of samples. In all cases, clear and unambiguous written instructions on the collection of specimens must be provided to the collection site staff. If specimen collectors are responsible for the on site test, they should receive training and demonstrate proficiency in proper on site testing procedures. They should receive written instructions and should perform the on site tests in accordance with those instructions.
(These procedures are in addition to regular specimen collection procedures. All procedures and forms should be reviewed by company counsel prior to implementation).
- The collector shall keep the specimen collection cup in view at all times prior to conducting the on site test. After the specimen has been collected, the collector shall keep the specimen shipping bottle and on site test in view at all times prior to sealing and labeling. If for some reason the specimen or on site test cannot be in visual sight of the specimen collector, both the specimen and the on site test should be sealed with a forensic tamper proof seal.
- The collector administers the on site test according to the TestExpress instructions, which are included with every test kit purchased.
- After 2-10 minutes, (consult our complete instructions) the collector reads the on site test results.
- If the test is negative, both the on site test and the specimen shipping bottle are discarded. The collector completes the negative test certification form.
- If the test is positive, the collector enters all information identifying the specimen on the drug testing chain-of-custody form and on the on site drug test result form.
- The collector then reports the test results to the appropriate management representative.
If the facilities are available, the collector makes a photo copy or a photograph of the on site test that displays the positive result (consult the TestExpress instructions for details). This copy should be properly identified with the donor's identification number and the date of the test and signed by the collector. Both the on site test and the photocopy or photograph are retained by the collection site staff.
7. What are the procedures for on site drug testing?When using TestExpress test kits, once the specimen is collected using standard collection procedures, the following on site procedures may be followed:
In providing for the specimen collection process, the company must set up a test site. This is a location where the on site tests can be collected. In most cases on site testing will be conducted in a space near to the collection site (usually a restroom) and the on site test will be conducted by the person who collects the specimen. The specimen must be kept in visual sight of the specimen collector until the test is completed. If for some reason the specimen or on site test cannot be in visual sight of the specimen collector, both the specimen and the on site test should be sealed with a forensic tamper proof seal.
8. What is adulteration and how can I guard against it when collecting samples?Adulteration is the intentional tampering with a urine sample by the donor to avoid detection of illicit drug use. Successful adulteration produces a false-negative drug test result. Many techniques have been devised for this purpose, including:
- Eating or drinking substances that the donor believes will chemically alter drug test results.
- Adding substances (salt, vinegar, bleach, detergent, Drano, Visine, etc.) directly to the urine sample to chemically alter test results.
- Diluting the urine sample, e.g., by drinking large amounts of liquid, taking a diuretic to increase urination, or adding water directly to the specimen to lower the concentration of the drug so that it becomes undetectable by the test.
- Substituting the donor's specimen with someone else's drug-free urine.
You can guard against adulteration in a number of ways. Direct observation of the donor as he/she provides the sample is a foolproof way to prevent specimen substitution or the direct addition of foreign substances to the sample. However, direct observation is commonly considered an infringement of individual privacy and is rarely done, especially in pre-employment and other workplace testing.
There are, however, other preventive measures you should take:
- Federal Guidelines suggest, for example, that donors not be permitted to wear coats or bulky clothing or carry purses, hip-packs, backpacks or briefcases when giving samples; that they present adequate identification before giving samples; and that sample temperature be immediately tested.
- The collection area, usually a restroom, can be secured by turning off the hot water tap; putting a coloring agent in the toilet bowl; and thoroughly inspecting the area for concealed adulterants prior to commencing the tests. Donors should also be required to wash their hands just prior to giving a sample, hampering their ability to conceal adulterants in the palm of their hand or even under their fingernails.