Archive for December, 2009

What are the time restraints on conducting a breath alcohol test and urine specimen collection for a Post Accident collection under DOT regulations?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The employee must provide a breath specimen for alcohol testing no later than 8 hours after the accident and a urine specimen no later than 32 hours after the accident.

How should an MRO handle reporting drug test results when a Direct Observation Collection was done without using the required procedures?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

If a collector, Medical Review Officer (MRO), Third Party Administrator (TPA), or other service agent learns that a Direct Observation collection using the required procedures was not conducted, the employer needs to be informed. Upon learning that a Direct Observation collection using the required procedures was not conducted, the employer needs to direct the employee to have an immediate recollection under Direct Observation. Subsequently, MROs will follow the procedures at 40.162(b) for working with multiple verified results for the same testing event. (DOT”s Direct Observation Reminder Notice)

Hair Data Shows More Cocaine and Methamphetamine Use Than Urine

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

While both hair and urine test data show a decline in cocaine and methamphetamine use over time in the general U.S. workforce, hair data show a dramatically higher level of use. In the first half of 2009, the 3.2 percent cocaine positivity rate in hair testing is more than ten-fold that of the 0.30 percent positivity found in urine testing, and the 0.90 percent methamphetamine positivity rate in hair testing is nine times that of the 0.10 positivity found in urine. Overall drug use detected by hair testing during the same period reached 6.9 percent positivity; urine reached 4.2 percent.

“Hair has a longer memory than urine when it comes to finding patterns of drug use. That’s because a drug test on a small amount of hair can detect a drug user’s repeated consumption of a substance over time, while a test of a urine sample can signal drug use in the prior one to three days,” according to Barry Sample, Ph.D., director of science and technology, Quest Diagnostics’ Employer Solutions division. “Looking at hair and urine data from the same time period-and seeing both long-term repetitive use and recent use-gives us a more complex and sophisticated view of workforce drug habits. This special DTI report suggests that while law enforcement and employer drug testing efforts appear to be working, there is more drug use in the American workforce than shown by urine data alone.”

Hair testing is a newer technology that has been experiencing gradual adoption over the past decade. Hair testing will not detect a single instance of drug use, but rather a pattern of repetitive use over a period of up to 90 days. The longer detection period for hair testing presents a greater window of opportunity to detect use, and may also reduce the effectiveness of a job applicant’s efforts to “prepare” for or beat the drug test. Yet hair testing is not effective in detecting drug use in post-accident or reasonable-suspicion test cases. In these situations, urine or oral-fluid testing are more effective because, unlike hair testing, they can detect a drug in the system as closely as possible to the time of its use.

Government To Regulate NFL Drug Testing?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The NFL does boast over 13,000 urine tests each year (during the season and off-season), all random drug tests. However, recently the four defensive linemen found using bumetanide, “a masking agent that is used to cover up steroids” are all winning against NFLs system “and using litigation to do it.” Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, spoke in a congressional committee last week stating, “one of the goals of the NFL testing program is to ensure that young people know that using steroids is wrong.” Goodell further suggested that Congress take action with a “narrow and specific change in federal law.” For the full story, please click here.

Preemployment Background Screening Guideline Released

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

ASIS Standards and Guidelines Preemployment Background Screening Guideline will aid employers in understanding and implementing the fundamental concepts, methodologies, and related legal issues associated with the background screening of job applicants. It presents practical information concerning the value of preemployment background screening, the importance of the application form, important legal issues and considerations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, privacy issues, state laws, rules and regulations, the types of information to utilize in verifying the key elements, and the use of credit reporting agencies. Get details.

New Guidelines Allow Legalized Medical Marijuana Use In 14 States

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

A new policy memo issued Monday, October 19 by the Justice Department informed prosecutors that “pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers should not be targeted for federal prosecution in states that allow medical marijuana.” The guidelines specify that federal prosecutors trying to prosecute such people “is not a good use of their time. The guidelines being issued by the department do, however, make it clear that federal agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes.” For the full story, please click here.

**Please note the Department of Justice’s guidelines will have NO BEARING on the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations. Under 49 CFR Part 40.151(e) the DOT does not authorize medical marijuana under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.

2010 DOT Random Testing Rates

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The following chart outlines the annual minimum drug and alcohol random testing rates established within DOT Agencies and the USCG for 2010:

DOT Agency

2010 Random Drug Testing Rate

2010 Random Alcohol Testing Rate

Federal Aviation Administration
[FAA]

25%

10%

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[FMCSA]

50%

10%

Federal Railroad Administration
[FRA]

25%

10%

Federal Transit Administration
[FTA]

25%

10%

Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
[PHMSA]

25%

N/A

United States
Coast Guard
[USCG] (now with the Dept. of Homeland Security)

50%

N/A

Federally-Mandated Testing Changes Forthcoming

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The department of Health and Human Services Administration (HHS) issued a rule that will affect Federal workforce drug testing programs. Beginning in May 2010, MDMA (Ecstasy) and 6-Acetylmorphine (Heroin-specific metabolite) will become required screens in regulated panels. Additionally, the screening and confirmation cutoffs for cocaine and amphetamines will be lowered. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has not yet issued a NPRM adopting these HHS changes, but we anticipate that they will in the next several weeks.

We can assume that SAMHSA is making these changes in an effort to increase the deterrent effect of the Federally-mandated testing environment by testing for broader range of illicit substances and at lower thresholds for certain drugs. This not only may lead to a cleaner workforce but also to earlier identification of the use of illicit substances,” Barry Sample, Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics.

Once these changes go into affect, your Federally mandated drug testing may see an increase in positive tests, primarily, due to the lower cut-offs . This could cause increased laboratory costs and Medical Review Officer (MRO) fees, and more results with increased turnaround times.

While this change will directly apply to your Federally-mandated testing, a number of our clients administer their non-DOT testing by adhering to Federal testing standards. We will not be taking automatic action to change any of your non-DOT panels without your written authorization. Despite the potential negative return on your investment, if you would like for your non-DOT test panels to continue to match the DOT panels and cutoffs, please call our National Customer Support Center at 800-877-7484.

As the industry leader and your drug testing partner we will continue to monitor and inform you as more specifics are made available. Quest Diagnostics will be prepared to implement all required testing changes to keep you in compliance with both your company policy and Federal drug testing regulations. Look for future Results articles on the topic over the coming months and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions that you might have in the meantime.