Traditionally, employers use urine specimens for applicant and employee drug testing. In this post, we will talk about continuing to use urine for applicant drug testing but using oral fluid drug testing for employee testing for post-accident and reasonable suspicion.
In this article we will discuss the following:
Oral fluid drug testing is dependable and accurate. It has a short window of detection of very recent drug use from ingestion up to two days from ingestion.
To be clear, the use of oral fluid drug testing for US Department of Transportation (DOT) regulated employers is still prohibited as of the end of 2022. At some point, the DOT will provide final authorization for the use of oral fluid as a specimen for DOT-regulated drug testing. As this gets final approval, the DOT will provide best practices and guidance on oral fluid drug testing and oral fluid specimen collections.
Lab-based oral fluid specimen collections
Major laboratories in the United States are offering lab-based oral fluid drug testing. This is typically a collection performed by the employer representative—the manager, supervisor, safety manager, or company nurse. Oral fluid collections are not typically available at the local facilities where you normally go for urine drug testing, although this could change in the future.
Post-accident drug testing with oral fluid
When an accident on the job or out in the field occurs, you usually try to get a drug and alcohol test completed. This can be difficult. If it is after-hours or over the weekend, it is extremely difficult. An option for non-DOT situations is lab-based oral fluid drug/alcohol testing. The oral fluid collection is a simple five-minute process of the employee placing a swab in their mouth to collect saliva. The swab is then packaged to be sent to the laboratory via FedEx. After testing at the lab, the results go on to the Medical Review Officer (MRO) for review, verification, and reporting to the employer. Negative results will come back 24 to 48 hours from receipt of the specimen at the lab and positive results a day or two later.
This is an easy collection that can be performed by the supervisor or manager who may arrive at the scene of an accident or in the workplace facility. This process eliminates the scrambling around to find a drug-screen collector when there is an emergency post-accident situation.
Reasonable suspicion drug testing with oral fluid
When there is reasonable suspicion that an employee could be impaired or under the influence, time is of the essence. It may be the night shift, and no drug testing facility is available. An easy solution is an oral fluid specimen collection right there at the workplace. A manager, supervisor, safety manager, or company nurse can easily do the collection. The specimen is then sent to the lab, and then the results go on to the MRO for review, verification, and reporting to the employer.
The company would decide whether to have the employee return to work pending the test result or have them stay home until the result comes back from the MRO. It is also important to make sure the employee gets home safely. They should not drive because they are suspected of being impaired or under the influence.
Test panels available for oral fluid drug testing
Just like with urine drug testing, there are multiple test panels available for oral fluid drug testing. Our nine-panel drug test with alcohol is recommended for this program. The tests include alcohol along with marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, opiates, cocaine, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, and propoxyphene. The opiates testing includes the expanded opioid testing of hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.
Benefits of oral fluid drug testing
An easy turnkey program is available from National Drug Screening. With this program you are provided the following: