Urine testing

The Case for Maintaining a Drug Testing Policy

by Steve Beller on March 16, 2017

Employers conduct drug testing for a number of reasons – pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and return-to-duty. Of these, reasonable suspicion can often be the most litigious and, as such, points out the importance of creating and maintaining a comprehensive workplace drug testing policy and program. The case of Layne v. Kanawha County Board of Education is a great example of an effective policy in action.

The case was presented in a recent article in the National Law Review. In it, “the petitioner, Layne, was a middle school sign language interpreter who was observed behaving erratically by five employees.”  Her actions were reported to the school principle who subsequently met with Layne. During their conversation, the principle observed suspicious behaviors. Among other things, she had trouble sitting still, was rambling, and seemed overly fixated on items in her bag. The principal documented his observations and requested that she submit to a drug test. The article goes on to state that “when the interpreter refused, the consequences (i.e., disciplinary action) were explained and after refusing further, the school suspended the interpreter.” She continued to refuse to take a drug test and the school opted to not renew her contract, effectively terminating her employment.

Layne fought the termination and sued the Board of Education. She lost her case and subsequently appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of Appeals found no error in the initial ruling and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

This case demonstrates the importance of creating a detailed, comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol testing policy. Best practices for such a policy include:

  • Have a written policy that clearly spells out the types of testing that will be conducted and the consequences for refusing to test
  • Actively communicate your substance abuse policy to employees
  • Provide supervisor training on the warning signs of drug abuse
  • Make certain that your testing program complies with state laws

Learn more about creating effective workplace testing programs by downloading our Guide to Establishing a Workplace Drug Testing Program. For information on drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Revisions to Federal Workplace Drug Testing

by Nicole Jupe on February 10, 2017

On January 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revised the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. More specifically, the notice expanded federal urine workplace drug testing to include four Schedule II drugs: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. The effective date for the revised Guidelines is October 1, 2017. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) also published a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend 49 CFR Part 40 to harmonize with HHS to expand its federal drug testing panel. There is a 60-day comment period with a deadline of March 24, 2017 for these DOT proposed rules.

In addition to adding four Schedule II opioids to regulated drug testing programs, the notices included several minor changes: adding MDA as an initial test analyte and removing MDEA for confirmatory testing. The revised HHS Guidelines also raise the lower pH cutoff from 3 to 4 to identify an adulterated specimen and allow the Medical Review Officer (MRO) to recommend the collection of an oral fluid specimen in certain situations, as permitted by agency policy. The proposed DOT rules would also eliminate the requirement for employer blind specimen testing and updates some MRO training/re-certification requirements.

We wanted to answer some of your most common questions regarding this announcement.

  • When will the DOT require these Schedule II drugs as part of its panel?
    The public comments on the proposed DOT rules are due March 24, 2017. It is anticipated that the DOT will publish rules that are harmonized with HHS with an effective date of October 1, 2017. This timing would be dependent on the number and content of the comments as well as the regulatory process.
  • What will be the name of this drug test panel?
    Based on the past implementation of the August 16, 2010 (effective October 1, 2011) harmonized DOT rules that added additional analytes, the DOT still considered the test a “5‑panel” drug test. Until the final rules are published, the name of the revised drug test panel is unknown. However, Quest Diagnostics will utilize a new order code for this new drug test panel. All of our DOT ordering accounts will be automatically updated to this new order code and panel name on the effective date of the new rules.
  • Can I start testing our DOT employees now? What about non-regulated drug testing?
    No because changes may still be made to DOT or other regulated drug testing until the effective date of their respective requirements. Non-regulated testing of prescription (“expanded”) opiates is already permitted in compliance with applicable state laws and regulations. Approximately 15 percent of our non-regulated opiate drug testing currently includes these prescription opiates.

We work to continually refine our laboratory testing to comply with changing regulations and as part of our commitment to quality and scientific innovation. Stay up to date with this regulation and other industry news on our website, blog, and social media communities.

Read the HHS revised guidelines in the Federal Register

We encourage everyone to read the DOT Proposed Rules and comment.

View the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ for urine testing positivity data.

For more information, contact your sales representative or contact us online.

Clarifying the New OSHA Post-Accident Drug Testing Regulations

February 3, 2017 Drug Testing

New regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses became effective on December 1, 2016. The regulations prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses (OSHA 29 CFR 1904). Although drug and alcohol testing was not mentioned in the Final Rule […]

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Important Changes With eCCF

October 10, 2016 Urine testing

The content below highlights a number of the changes you should expect as you prepare to make the transition to electronic custody and control forms, or eCCF, for Federal drug testing from Quest Diagnostics. One of the biggest changes is the use of the Specimen ID as the single, identifying number for all drug testing […]

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Our Focus on Drug Test Quality

October 4, 2016 Drug Testing

As a leading drug testing laboratory, we want employers to feel confident about their drug test results because these results often directly impact workplace safety, productivity, and an individual’s livelihood.  Therefore, we are dedicated to achieving an exceptional level of quality throughout the entire drug testing process from specimen collection to the final drug test […]

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Combating Cheating in Urine Drug Testing

July 18, 2016 Urine testing

At Quest Diagnostics, we take the issue of subversion of the drug testing process very seriously. We continue to be pioneers in specimen validity testing (SVT) – a screening to help ensure the integrity of the urine specimen and drug test. We first patented our screening technology for oxidizing adulterants in 2000 and testified before […]

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Detecting Drug Abuse Among Medical Professionals

July 6, 2016 Urine testing

The challenges associated with opioid abuse can impact anyone regardless of gender, age, race, or job position. Perhaps surprisingly to some, that fact that some physicians struggle with substance abuse and addiction is not a new phenomenon. USA Today reported that more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare professionals struggle with abuse or […]

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Fentanyl In the News

June 29, 2016 Urine testing

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Used to treat pain, it is categorized as a Schedule II drug and carries a “black box warning” from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to call attention […]

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Random Drug Testing Benefits Employers

June 15, 2016 Drug Testing

Drug testing programs aim to prevent the hiring of drug-using applicants while deterring drug use among current employees. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 21.4 percent of employed adults used illicit drugs within the past month. Results from the 2014 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) show that, in the general […]

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My Day in the Lab

June 8, 2016 Drug Testing

My name is Steve. I’m a marketer. I joined Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions two months ago. My journey has been informative and sometimes challenging as I endeavor to learn a new industry. Today was my induction into “the lab life.” I spent the day watching and listening as our highly-trained (and passionate) laboratory employees walked […]

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