New DOT Rule on Expanded Opiates in 4 Minutes
This is brief information regarding the new DOT drug testing rule effective 01/01//18. There are multiple provisions of this new rule, we will discuss here the pertinent information that employers need to be aware of.
The most significant portion of the new DOT rule is the expansion of the opiates panel to include oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone & hydromorphone. Some common names for the new semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.
Based on these new drugs being test for, employees should be educated to visit with their prescribing physician to determine if they can be put on an alternative treatment or medication that does not render the DOT regulated employee medically unqualified under an applicable DOT agency regulation or is likely to pose a significant safety risk, so as to trigger a reporting obligation by the MRO to the employer.
The DOT drug testing panel is still a 5 panel drug test to include:
- Marijuana metabolites
- Cocaine metabolites
- Opioids – codeine, heroin, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone & hydromorphone
- Amphetamines -amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA & MDA
A major change in this new rule for the medical review officer is a timing of reporting a significant safety risk. A laboratory positive drug test may be overturned by the MRO when the employer has a verified legal prescription for a drug that caused the positive lab result. When this occurs and the MRO also has a safety concern, the MRO will report the negative result and also inform the employee to have their prescribing physician contact the MRO within five days to determine if a non-impairing effect drug/treatment can be prescribed so that the MRO would not be required to make a safety concern or medically disqualified report to the employer. The advice to DOT regulated employees is to be proactive in dealing with opiate prescription issues before being called for DOT testing is highly desirable to prevent potential job disqualification, being temporally removed from your position or potential job loss for the DOT regulated employee.
DOT regulated employers are advised to update their job descriptions to make “the ability to operate in a constant state of alertness, and safe manner” an essential job duty, and also include a pre-duty impairing effects prescription medications safety policy within their DOT Policy (this should also include medical marijuana as an impairing effects substance as well even though it is not acceptable as a legitimate medical excuse under DOT).
DOT drug testing policies should also be updated to reflect the new DOT rule effective 01/01/2018. National Drug Screening offers assistance with DOT drug & alcohol testing policies and policy updates.