You might be asking, “is there a difference?” I thought a test was a test. Like cars, not all tests are the same. Some are fast and not made to withstand everyday bumps and others move slower, but stand up to the rigors of everyday use. When it comes to oral fluid and urinalysis there are two types of drug tests in common practice.
The first is known as “Instant,” “Rapid”, or “Point of Collection” testing. These tests are performed at the collection site by the screener or collector who utilizes an instant cup, dip stick, or swap that generally returns results in three to five minutes. The pros, the test is fast and economical. The cons, the test can return false “positive” results; due to a bad device, over the counter and prescription medications taken. Also, instant testing is not widely accepted in courts and not approved for Department of Transportation required testing.
The second type of drug testing is Laboratory based testing. Laboratory based testing is recognized as the most reliable and accurate type of testing. Lab based testing is conducted in a “Federally Certified Laboratory”, staffed with Toxicologists, Certifying Scientists, and Medical Doctors who perform testing in a controlled setting. The pros, the tests are widely accepted in legal matters and, with the help of Medical Review Officers, exclude over the counter and prescription drugs from the test results. The cons, Lab based testing is slower and more expensive. For more information about Medical Review Officers see the article in this issue.
These tests, like cars, are designed for specific applications. An Instant test can be great for quick screening in the case of a post-accident or reasonable suspicion case, negative results mean the employee returns to work, non-negative results the employee goes home and the specimen is sent to the lab for confirmation. Lab based testing is accurate, follows federally established levels, does not leave an employer guessing about his/her employee’s drug use, it is also the approved method to meet all DOT required testing. As we know, each situation is different and that is why we recommend employers consult with us at Mass Mobile Drug Testing.