Research Triangle Park, NC: Many private companies that perform drug tests on employees and/or potential applicants fail to confirm positive test results at a certified lab or have the results reviewed by a medical review officer, according to report published this week by The Washington Post. Such review procedures are necessary to weed out instances where the initial positive result is either a "false positive" (a case where a legally ingested substance tests positive as an illegal substance) or is the result of the subject's use of a valid prescription drug.
Because confirmation testing is more expensive to perform than the initial drug screen, a variety of which are available in kits and sold in pharmacies over-the-counter, a growing number of small and medium-size private companies are forgoing it in favor of cheaper, less reliable testing procedures.
"In a nutshell, non-regulated employers feel that it's fast and cheap to screen applicants themselves" using over-the-counter drug tests, said Ted Shults, chairman of the American Association of Medical Review Officers. "[T]hat does not provide the applicant any safeguards."
Under federal drug testing guidelines, all positive drug screens must be confirmed by a certified laboratory and a medical review officer. However, those guidelines may change imminently, as the US Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently proposed allowing federal agencies to use non-FDA approved drug testing devices such as hair tasting and saliva testing to screen for drug use among federal employees.