And how can they keep you and your firm out of trouble?
Is your firm doing drug testing? If yes, it is crucial that you have a Medical Review Officer play a major role in determining whether a “non-negative” drug test from the lab is in fact a positive drug test.
A specimen is tested at the lab. It can come back negative, and that is fine.
Or the specimen comes back from the lab with a non-negative result. That means that the specimen contains the presence of a drug in excess of acceptable cut-off levels. These specimens should be sent to your organization’s Medical Review Officer.
Why is a Medical Review Officer (MRO) important? An MRO is an independent, licensed physician who is responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory results and evaluating medical explanations for certain drug test results. All participating MROs meet the following requirements:
- Licensed as a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO)
- Knowledgeable about substance abuse disorders, plus clinical experience
- Certified by a nationally recognized MRO certification board
What they do and how they are a best practice
MROs make their determinations using test results, documentation provided by the collection site and interviews with the donor. MROs are an advocate for the accuracy and integrity of the drug testing process. They work to determine if there is a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory confirmed positive, adulterated, substituted and invalid drug test result. The MRO is a crucial line of defense against an allegation that the drug test process was in error.
The MRO is there to evaluate reasons why a specimen may have tested non-negative for certain drugs. If the MRO is provided with a valid alternative medical explanation for the result (such as using a prescription medication that creates a positive result in the given drug test), then the MRO can verify that the result should be “negative” and this will be sent to your company.
Using medical marijuana will not be regarded as an acceptable reason, even if you have a prescription to do so
If a person refuses to cooperate with the MRO’s interview process, or the MRO can’t locate the person, then in most cases the MRO would generally verify the positive result. The MRO will need to keep notes of all their attempts to find or contact the donor.
Under the Federal Guidelines, the MRO is required to change a positive drug test result to negative if a donor can demonstrate a legitimate medical reason for the result. Your MRO may discuss the medication with the doctor that made the prescription in order to confirm whether or not it would impact upon your job performance.
If a donor does not have a valid prescription from a licensed physician, then prescribed medications are treated in the same way as illegal drug.
Here are some examples of why a donor’s specimen may contain levels in excess of acceptable cut-off levels for drug.
- Several prescription pain relievers are chemically related to heroin, based on the opium molecule.
- Stimulant medications used for weight loss or the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may cause a positive drug screen result for amphetamines.