”Chain of custody” is the process of ensuring and providing
documentation of proper specimen identification and handling from the
time of collection to the receipt of laboratory results. If the results
come under legal challenge, the specimen must have been handled according
to chain-of-custody procedures exactly and accurately. The chain-of-custody
protocol assures the specimen belongs to the individual whose information
is printed on the specimen bottle label, no adulteration or tampering
has taken place, exactly who had possession of the specimen and when,
how the specimen was transported and stored before it was analyzed, no
unauthorized access to the specimen was possible, and the specimen was
handled in a secure manner.
All specimen collections should be performed using a secure restroom.
After the donor has removed any bulky objects and washed their hands,
he or she should choose a sealed specimen collection kit. All seals are
removed by the technician in the donor's presence, and the donor is then
asked to provide a urine specimen. Following the collection of donor's
specimen, the chain-of-custody form is filled out and completed while
the donor is present. After all of the specimen bottles, the chain-of-custody
form, and the specimen bags are sealed, the donor is allowed to leave.
This is a facility where individuals present themselves for the purpose
of providing body fluid(s) to be analyzed for specified controlled substances.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is the governmental agency that
administers regulations requiring drug and/or alcohol testing in accordance
with 49 CFR Part 40 of the federal regulations.
A DOT drug screen tests a specimen for five drugs—opiates, PCP,
methamphetamines, marijuana and cocaine. A DOT-approved chain-of-custody
form is used during the collection process, and a split sample is collected
and both specimens are forwarded to the laboratory for testing. Once the
laboratory completes the testing process, the results are forwarded to
the Medical Review Officer (MRO) for review. Following the MRO's review,
results are reported to the designated reporting agency.
A non-DOT drug screen can test for the same range of drugs as the 5-panel
DOT screen—opiates, PCP, amphetamines/methamphetamines, marijuana
and cocaine. It can be expanded into a 10-panel drug screen by testing
for the above five drugs and adding barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone,
methaqualone and propoxyphene. A urine alcohol (ethyl) screen can be added
to either panel if desired.
A well-drafted policy outlines what type of testing will be conducted,
the terms and definitions surrounding drug screening, and recourse for
positive test results. A policy is also used to convey a strong message
of “zero tolerance” toward drugs and alcohol in the workplace.
GC/MS testing is considered to be the most definitive method for confirming
the presence of a detected substance in urine. GC/MS is used to confirm
test results that indicate any level of a controlled substance. When a
laboratory suspects adulterants, dilution or other sample abnormality,
GC/MS will identify the exact chemical compounds present in suspicious
An MRO is a licensed M.D. with a history of substance abuse diagnostic
work. According to DOT regulations, all DOT drug screens must be reviewed
by an MRO. Many states also require an MRO review, and this service is
available for non-DOT testing, if desired. During the MRO's review, it
may be necessary for him or her to speak directly with the donor to verify
any types of medication the donor has taken. The client will not be notified
if this occurs and will only be notified when a test result is available.
A patient service technician is the designated person trained in specimen
collection procedures who ensures that (1) donors are identified correctly,
(2) the chain-of-custody protocol is strictly followed, (3) the donor’s
dignity is preserved, (4) no sample is adulterated or diluted during
collection, and (5) donors and clients receive the best possible evidentiary
collection and testing service.
This refers to testing an employee who is involved in an on-the-job accident
(vehicular or otherwise) that may have involved human error and may have
caused a fatality, serious injury, or significant property damage.
A candidate for employment must pass the drug and/or alcohol test as a
condition of employment. Testing can be performed as part of the application
process: (1) before an offer of employment is made, (2) as a part of the
hiring process after an offer of employment is made but before the employee
commences work, or (3) shortly after the individual begins work but continued
employment is contingent upon successful completion of the drug and/or
Random testing means the employees are chosen on a "neutral selection"
basis without advance notice. True random testing is conducted by pooling
a selected amount of numbers determined by the client from the total number
of qualified participants' numbers in the random pool.
The "cause" required is an objective, factual, individualized
basis for testing, such as when an employee's observed behavior or physical
appearance suggests drug and/or alcohol use or possession of drugs and/or
Employees returning from a leave of absence for sickness or injury exceeding
a given number of days can be required to submit and successfully pass
a drug and/or alcohol test as a condition of reinstatement.
SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
is the department of the federal government that regulates and certifies
laboratories currently processing DOT specimens. Laboratories with
SAMHSA certification are also available to test non-DOT samples. These
laboratories confirm all positive drug screen samples by GC/MS testing.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace (IDFW)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
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