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Employer Drug Testing Panels. | Different Panel Drug Tests

What are the most popular drug test panels used by employers in the United States? 

We are providing a comprehensive review of common urine drug testing panels used for workplace drug testing, particularly pre-employment drug testing.

For DOT regulated employers this question can be answered very easily.  DOT regulated employers include railroads, transit systems, bus companies, airlines, aircraft mechanic companies, trucking companies, oil and gas companies and other transportation related industries.  The drug test panel required is the DOT 5 panel drug test which includes: Cocaine (COC), Marijuana (THC), Phencyclidine (PCP), Amphetamines (AMP – including Methamphetamines & MDMA), Opioids (OPI) including hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone.

For all other employers, who we call Non-DOT or non-regulated employers; there are a variety of drug test panels that can be utilized.  The most popular panels are:

5 PANEL DOT LIKE – Cocaine (COC), Marijuana (THC), Phencyclidine (PCP), Amphetamines (AMP – including Methamphetamines & MDMA) and Opioids (OPI) including hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone.  This test might also be referred to as a 5 Panel with Expanded Opiates Urine Drug Test.

(See below for a definition of DOT Like)

5 PANEL – Cocaine (COC), Marijuana (THC), Phencyclidine (PCP), Amphetamines (AMP) & Opiates (OPI)

10 PANEL DOT LIKE – Cocaine (COC), Marijuana (THC), Phencyclidine (PCP), Amphetamines (AMP – including Methamphetamines & MDMA), Benzodiazepines (BZO), Barbiturates (BAR), Methadone (MTD), Propoxyphene (PPX), Methaqualone (MQU) and Opioids (OPI) including hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. This test might also be referred to as a 10 Panel with Expanded Opiates Urine Drug Test.

10 PANEL – Cocaine (COC), Marijuana (THC), Phencyclidine (PCP), Amphetamines (AMP), Opiates (OPI), Benzodiazepines (BZO), Barbiturates (BAR), Methadone (MTD), Propoxyphene (PPX), and Methaqualone (MQU).

The above are all lab-based tests with urine specimens which means we send the specimen to the lab and at the lab the specimen is screened for the above listed classes of drugs.  If the specimen screens negative it is automatically sent to the medical review officer (MRO) for review and verification and then immediately reported to the employer.  If the specimen screens non-negative it goes on to further testing at the laboratory.  This is confirmation testing and is a more sophisticated and more expensive testing process commonly called Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).  This process pinpoints the exact metabolite of the drug present in the urine and at a quantitative level.

A note regarding the 10 panel drug tests.  We have seen some of the laboratories eliminating testing for Methaqualone (MQU). Quaaludes (Methaqualone) have not been around for many years.  Popular in the 1970’s and 80’s, Methaqualone is no longer legitimately manufactured.  Labs that are eliminating Methaqualone are offering the 9-panel drug test or the 9-panel with expanded opiates.

Also, it is very important to mention that other than the 5, 9 and 10 panel configurations of drug tests, there are no other standards.  If you order a 4-panel test, 6 panel, 7 panel, 12 panel, 14 panel test or other configurations your drug testing provider needs to know the exact configuration of drugs you are looking to test for.  Other than the 5, 9 and 10 panel, there are no standard configurations, so you need to be very specific.  This is particularly important in this age of legal marijuana as some employers may be requesting a panel that does not test for marijuana.

Instant Drug Testing or POCT

Many employers today are looking for fast drug test results to get new employees hired immediately.  Instant or Point of Collection Testing (POCT) can give you same day negative results.  If on the instant test the urine screens non-negative; that specimen is sent to the laboratory for confirmation testing.  Results for these tests that must go to the lab will take a few days longer.  Over 90% of all specimens with instant testing will screen negative.

There are many variations of panels for instant drug testing.  Some employers may elect to collect specimens in house to save money and save even more time on the pre-employment drug testing process.  Another option is a local clinic that can customize a program of instant testing for the employer.  In these cases, a specific panel of drugs can be customized.

At National Drug Screening we have a national program using both Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp for instant testing at over 3000 nationwide drug testing collection sites

These facilities, which we call Patient Service Centers (PSC), offer some standard instant drug test panels which can be ordered electronically right from the recruiter or hiring manager’s desk.  These standard instant drug test panels that will be readily available at all Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp patient service centers are:

INSTANT 6 AT QUEST – Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates & PCP

INSTANT 6 AT LABCORP – Amphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, PCP, 6-Acetyl Morphine (Heroin)

INSTANT 11 AT QUEST – Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, PCP, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, Propoxyphene, Barbiturates and Oxycodone

INSTANT 10 AT LABCORP – Amphetamines, Barbiturates, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, Propoxyphene, 6-Acetyl Morphine (Heroin)

INSTANT 10 AT LABCORP + OXY – Amphetamines, MDMA, Barbiturates, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, PCP, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, 6- Acetyl Morphine (Heroin) and Oxycodone

Not all Drug Testing Panels are the Same

As you can see from the above information on lab-based testing and instant testing, not all drug testing panels are the same even among different certified laboratories.  A drug test panel can be different depending on how you specify what you want and what lab will be doing the testing.

The term DOT Like refers to a Non-DOT or Non-Regulated drug testing panel, so for the first five drugs, you will see a mirror image of the DOT drug test panel.  So, if you see the term DOT Like, it is not a DOT panel but the first 5 drugs are the same: Cocaine (COC), Marijuana (THC), Phencyclidine (PCP), Amphetamines (AMP – including Methamphetamines & MDMA), Opioids (OPI) including hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone.

Similarly, the 10 panel DOT Like panel will be the same as the 5 panel DOT like above but will add these additional 5 drugs: Benzodiazepines (BZO), Barbiturates (BAR), Methadone (MTD), Propoxyphene (PPX), Methaqualone (MQU).

This gets really important when looking at testing for Opioids to include pain medications which many Americans are abusing. If you simply order a 5-panel test or a 10-panel test; the expanded opioids of hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone will not be included.  It is very important that both you and your drug test provider be very clear on what drug test panel is being ordered for your employment drug testing program.

Online ordering of any of the urine drug tests listed above is available 24/7.