As you may or may not know, the Department of Transportation recently announced changes to the federal drug testing regulations. These changes are effective as of January 1, 2018 and are applicable to all DOT testing authorities. We suggest that you familiarize yourself with these changes. A link to the Dot website is provided below.
People that are performing jobs that are deemed to be safety sensitive will be tested for four additional semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone). Some common names for these semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, Exalgo®. Inclusion of these four semi-synthetic opioids is intended to help address the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse.
The new DOT panel is as follows:
3) Phencyclidine (PCP)
4) Amphetamines (includes Methamphetamines, MDMA, MDA)
b. 6-AM (heroin)
The new panel removes methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA).
In addition, the employee now has 5 days to provide a valid prescription to the Medical Review Officer. A valid prescription will in most cases result in a negative drug test result.
HOWEVER, if the Medical Review Officer (MRO) notices an unnatural amount of the drug, the MRO will likely want to ask more questions and it could result in a positive drug test. It may also result in a negative test with a Safety Sensitive Notification letter from the MRO. The impact of these prescription medications will likely increase the frequency you may receive “Safety Sensitive Notifications” from the Medical Review Officer. If employees have valid prescriptions for medications that trigger a positive, the MRO will reverse and report valid prescriptions as negative. However, if the medication raises a safety concern you will be informed. Prudent action on your part will be securing documentation from the prescribing physician. You will want to confirm the medical practitioner’s knowledge of the employee’s essential job functions and that there is no risk associated with the performance of the functions while taking this medication.
These changes will increase the workload for the MROs because far more prescriptions will need to be verified. Also, the laboratories will have to analyze specimen for these additional substances. As a result, we expect that there will be a price increase from the labs and Medical Review Officers. As we move forward into next year we may need to pass along these increases to you.
In addition, the DOT will also be issuing a new version of the Federal Custody and Control Form. These forms will be for use after January 1, 2018. The current forms may be used up until June 30, 2018. The changes to the forms will have very little impact on you or on your employees but everyone must conform to the new regulations and have the new forms in use by June 30, 2018.
Please use this link to the DOT website for more information.
So what should you be thinking about?
1) How and when do I talk to my employees about the changes to the drug testing panel?
We suggest that you speak with your employees as soon as possible and make them aware of these changes. Information up front may avoid some issues going into the future.
2) How do I handle positive results for the new substances? What if my employee has a valid prescription for one of the drugs which will now be included in the testing? How do I handle Safety Sensitive notifications?
If Mass MDT provides your laboratory and MRO services, please give us a call or send us an email with your questions. We have a draft letter which may help. If we do not provide these services, you should contact your service provider.
3) How/when do I get the new testing forms?
If Mass MDT provides your DOT testing forms we will take care of your testing forms. We will make sure that we issue new forms to you well before the June 30, 2018 deadline. If Mass MDT does not provide your forms, contact your provider for new forms.
4) If my non-dot testing program mirrors the DOT panel should I change it to include the new substances?
If your current NON-DOT panel mirrors the DOT panel, we will automatically update your NON-DOT panel to match the new DOT panel. Given the severity of the opioids crisis in Massachusetts it is certainly recommended that you use the new panel but it is not required. If you do not want your NON-DOT lookalike panel changed you must contact us before January 1st.
5) Do I need to update my DOT FMCSA Testing Policy?
Yes, your policy needs to be updated. If Mass MDT wrote your policy please call or send us an e-mail and we will send you the update. If Mass MDT did not write your policy, contact your provider.
There is a lot of new information for you to consider. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us at the email or phone number below.