Ask the experts: Oral fluid collections

Question: How can we better ensure fast and adequate oral fluid sample collections?

The most appropriate answer to this question starts with a discussion of the oral fluid collection process and device. A key benefit of oral fluid testing is that samples can be collected on-site – i.e. at the work-site or hiring location. On-site collections reduce donor downtime, eliminate collection site fees, deter tampering and adulteration attempts due to their observed nature, and enable collections to be performed when a collection site would otherwise be closed for business. That said, where collection sites employ full-time, certified, professional collectors, oral fluid collections are often performed on-site by an employee whose primary job is typically not overseeing drug test collections. While the majority of collectors who have successfully completed the required training, read the instructions, and followed the established protocols have minimal issues, some donors simply present a collection challenge.

Oral-Eze CollecitonThe Oral-Eze® Oral Fluid Collection System is designed to collect enough oral fluid for both the initial drug screen and any potential confirmation or re-testing needs. Oral-Eze also features a built-in sample adequacy indicator that turns blue when a sufficient quantity of oral fluid has been collected. This indicator signals the collector that the collection is complete. While collecting enough specimen and knowing that the collection is complete are two critical pieces of the collection and testing process, it is also a concern among collectors when a collection event fails to yield a complete collection as indicated by a blue dot in the indicator window.

The vast majority of Oral-Eze collections are simple, fast, and provide specimens that can be tested without any issues. When we launched Oral-Eze, we performed a collection time study. This research definitively showed that more than 80% of Oral-Eze collections are complete in five minutes or less.

Based on time studies, customer feedback and industry standards, an oral fluid collection that takes ten minutes or less is viewed as a standard collection. That said, there are techniques that collectors and donors can use to help speed up the oral fluid collection process.

  • Rendering a complete collection in a short period of time is most often accomplished between a collector who provides good coaching and a donor who is willing to cooperate and follow directions.
  • Donors should refrain from talking or swallowing and pool their saliva for 15 to 30 seconds prior to the collection. Once the Oral-Eze device is in their mouth, they should direct that pool of oral fluid towards the collection pad. Pre-pooling oral fluid helps to jumpstart the collection and can greatly reduce the time it takes to render a blue dot.
  • When the donor puts the device in their mouth, the collector should start a 10-minute timer and should continually monitor the sample adequacy indicator, ending the collection when it turns blue or when ten minutes have elapsed, whichever comes first.
  • During the collection, the donor should keep the device in their mouth, leave it on one side of their mouth, avoid talking or swallowing, and should make a conscious effort to continually direct their oral fluid towards the collection pad.
  • Donors should have their mouths free of anything (food, water, gum, cigarettes, etc.) for at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the collection.

In the event that ten minutes elapse without rendering a blue dot, the collector still has the information needed to make a decision about what to do next. We encourage our clients to specify the actions their collectors should take in their company drug testing policy to remove any uncertainty, inconsistency or ambiguity. While the package insert instructs the test administrator to discontinue the collection after a maximum of ten minutes, we’ve heard of some clients who will allow the incomplete collection to continue for an additional five to ten minutes with the hope of rendering a blue dot. Other clients insist that the collection continues until it’s complete, regardless of the time it takes. While our recommendation is to stop at a blue dot or ten minutes – whichever comes first, in the end the decision is up to the employer and their drug testing policy.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.