The importance of a Lab Confirmation

July 31, 2017

Drug Testing Articles


We’ve all heard about someone getting drug tested and it coming back positive for an illegal substance even while that person has never done drugs in their life. Can you believe that there are companies who don’t take the one step further to verify 100 percent? Some of these companies are Fortune 500 Corporations who take it for granted that a simple urine or saliva drug test is the “end all, be all” of drug testing. “Well if the urine test has come back positive for Opiates, then that person must be taking Opium!” WRONG! Just because a person’s test results have come back positive for opiates doesn’t mean they are taking Opium. Maybe you should have asked some pre-test questions or follow-up work with that person, including asking them what prescription medicines do they take, what over-the-counter medicine have they taken in the past 24 to 48 hours, or what did they eat for breakfast prior to taking the drug test? If the answer to that question is a Poppy Seed Bagel, then you can either move on using your better judgment, or to be 100% sure, you should go for a lab confirmation. All these questions have answers that do have an effect on the results of any drug test. Did you also know that a life-threatening disease can change the body’s chemistry enough to have “positive” results on a urine drug test? What’s worse is, that person may not even know they have a disease yet. We’ll talk more about that in another article.

When you don’t do any follow-up work on a simple drug test, then you are asking for trouble, both legally and professionally. Either way, you are putting your company’s reputation on the line. Imagine you are working with a Fortune 500 company and you drug tested your entire Research & Development Staff one afternoon. Let’s say there are about 20 people in that department and half of them tested positive for drug abuse. Let’s break down the math: 4 of them tested positive of Opium, 3 were positive for Marijuana (THC), 2 tested positive for Amphetamines, and 1 person for Ecstasy. Now depending on your company’s drug policy, you may be faced with having to let half of your R&D department go based on these results from a single urine dip drug test. However, let’s make it clear, none of these staff members have ever taken illegal drugs before. So what is giving each of them a “False Positive”?

Honestly, it could be a number of things, for example: the 4 that tested positive for Opium could be because they ate something with Poppy Seeds within the last 24 hours, could have taken some Nyquil cough medicine to suppress their coughing, and maybe at least one is taking pain pill because of an injury. The 3 that tested positive for Marijuana (THC) could have taken Ibuprofen for a headache, suffer from a Kidney Infection, or worse yet, have Liver Disease (and the possibility of not knowing it yet). The 2 people that tested positive for Amphetamines could have Diabetes or have taken Asthma medication for their condition. Finally, the one who tested positive for Ecstasy could have taken Over-the-counter nasal sprays (i.e. Vicks inhaler, Afrin) or have Kidney Disease. These are all good pieces of information to know BEFORE you initiate the drug testing. That way it wouldn’t be a shock to you when you see the results, but don’t take those results as fact.

If you decide to send off the drug test for lab confirmation, basically you are asking the lab to confirm the results. By now you are probably scratching your head and asking, “Why do I need to give the test if I still need the lab to confirm the results?” That is a very good question. The reason you want to have the lab confirm the drug test results is so it can answer a lot of questions when an initial screen comes back positive. Using different technology, it can go into greater detail in terms of which drugs made the initial result positive in the first place. It can also eliminate other factors that may have manipulated the test like environmental, health conditions, and medical prescriptions to name a few. If to confirm THC in the system, it can show if it was due to exposure or consumption. In other words, it’s like a second pair of fresh eyes to look at it.

A Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a licensed physician (M.D.) that has received training in substance abuse, has an understanding of the protocols, and Chain of Custody requirements involved in drug testing. At all times, they are expected to maintain high scientific standards and keep the confidentiality of medical information of both parties, employees, and business requiring the drug test. The MRO will examine tests that have both negative and positive results that may indicate the slightest hint of any alteration. If any alteration is speculated, the MRO will allow the employee the opportunity to provide proof of legally obtained prescriptions and determines whether there is any other medical reason for the confirmed positive result. If so, the MRO has the authority to overturn the Confirmation ruling. Having an MRO inspect your sample results protects not only the employer against legal action but protects the employee’s reputation and job. At the lab, the MRO will have the final say as to what the results are.

We’re not saying that you can’t trust the drug tests; there are many other factors that could play a role in the results. That’s why it’s always a good idea to get a lab confirmation to support your claim, especially if you work in the Justice System, such as Police Officer, Courthouse, Parole Officer. Here’s a prime example: recently there was a case involving a woman who had just given birth to a baby girl. The hospital had contacted their counties Department of Public Welfare. Then while escorted by police officers, forcibly removed the 3-day-old baby from their home for 5 days because supposedly she tested positive for Opium after eating a bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts. Not only did she get her baby back, the courts awarded her with $144,000 in a lawsuit she filed against Lawrence County child welfare authorities and Jameson Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition to the cash settlement, Jameson Hospital agreed to change its policies for drug testing. Talk bout embarrassing, right?

When it comes to drug testing a good key rule may be to take the advice of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan when he used to say, “Trust, but verify”. Getting a lab confirmation can make the difference between a healthy working relationship between boss and employees for years to come and have a bad reputation for poor business practices and working ethics. It’s always better to be 100% sure than to make a hasty decision that could ruin not only the person’s reputation but could also ruin your company’s as well. After all, if you’re employees and clients can’t trust you, then what good is your business? Besides, you could end up saving the life of your employee if the lab confirmation comes back with the reasoning behind the “False Positive”.

If you have any questions about any of our Rapid Detect drug tests. please feel free to call and speak with one of our sales consultants Monday – Friday from 8am-4PM CST or email us.

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