CareNow® - December 11, 2017

It’s been reported that drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse cost the United States some $524 billion each year. Business owners have the ability to establish a work environment that is comfortable and beneficial to their employees’ health. Requiring employment drug testing ensures any potential employee meets employment standards and is living a healthy life outside of work.

Currently, only 56% of U.S. employers actually require pre-employment drug testing, while 29% conduct random drug screening of employees. As a private employer, you have the right to implement workplace policies regarding employee drug testing thanks to local, state and federal laws.

If you decide to enforce drug testing when hiring, regulatory guidelines require a written policy to be administered. The policy should also serve as an educational tool for potential employees.

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Why Should You Require Pre-Employment Drug Testing?

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If you’re unsure whether or not to implement drug screening for new employees, below are a few reasons you may want to consider it.

  • Workplace Safety
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If your place of work requires the operation of heavy machinery, manual labor or driving of any kind, it’s a good idea to drug screen new employees for the safety of everyone around them. In addition to new employee drug screening, random testing can also be helpful.

  • State and Federal Regulations
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Some state and federal regulations may require drug screening depending on the industry your company is in. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires drug testing for many occupations related to transportation. Healthcare and education occupations may also be required to do drug testing, depending on the state.

  • Public Relations
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Even if you are not required by law to enforce employee drug screening, it can often serve as a boost to the public perception of your company. Keeping your company transparent will help to gain the trust of the public and will attract consumers to your products or services.

  • Prevention
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If a drug screening is performed prior to hiring (and random drug testing implemented throughout employment), employees are much less likely to abuse illegal substances. Screening employees shows that your company takes drug use seriously.

Urine Tests Versus Hair Follicle Tests

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What to know: 

  • Two of the most popular types of drug testing include urine and hair tests.
  • A urine drug test is a screening of your urine for the presence of certain illegal drugs or prescription medicines.

A healthcare provider will collect a urine sample to send to the lab for testing. You will be asked to urinate into a sterile cup. Your provider will give more specific instructions on how to collect a clean sample.

Hair follicle testing analyzes for illegal drugs within the hair shaft. It measures drug molecules entrapped in hair. A hair test covers a period of months, so a drug user cannot avoid positive test results by simply stopping drug use for a few days.

Hair Drug Testing: 

  • Your healthcare provider will cut a small lock of hair, about the width of a shoelace tip, close to the scalp.
  • The hair must be at least 1.5 inch long per strand to be analyzed. It’s typical to snip a lock of hair at the back of the head just below the crown, so it’s not detectable.
  • Although it is more common to use head hair, hair can be used from the chest, leg or armpit.

When urine or hair follicle testing aren’t sufficient, blood specimens may be required. Drugs may be detected as early as minutes to hours in the blood versus several days in urine.

  • The most common type of urine drug test is called an immunoassay. It’s cost-effective and gives results quickly, but it can occasionally lead to false positives.
  • A GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) test is more expensive and can take longer to give results, but it seldom produces false positives.

The test results are shown in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Any result below a set cutoff number is a negative screen, and any number above the set cutoff number is a positive screen. Ask your healthcare provider to help you understand your test results.

Types Of Drug Testing

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There are a number of drug tests that can be given. Which test you choose depends on why the test is being taken in the first place. If there is a concern of drug use, a rapid drug screening may be needed; however, for more routine screening, a standard test is usually OK.

  •  Standard 10-Panel Drug Screen

This is the most common drug test performed. Patients taking this type of drug test will be screened for 10 different drug categories. In most cases, results may be given as early as the following day.

  • Rapid Drug Screen

This type of drug test is called “rapid” for a reason. It’s the fastest drug test given. This allows potential employees to get in and out of the office or clinic very quickly. Normally, the results of this type of test can be provided to business owners within the hour.

  • NIDA 5-Panel Drug Screen

The National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a federal agency supporting scientific studies and research of drug abuse. The agency created a 5-panel drug test that screens for signs of THC, Cocaine, PCP, amphetamines and opiates.

  • DOT Drug Screen

This is the Department of Transportation’s “go-to” drug screen. Patients who work in the trucking industry and carry a CDL license are usually required to take this test.

  • Breath Alcohol Testing

Used specifically for alcohol, the breath alcohol test (also known as the BAT) helps determine the amount of alcohol in someone’s blood based on the amount of alcohol in the air after the person exhales.

CareNow® Offers Employee Drug Testing

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If you are interested in implementing employee drug testing at your business, consider visiting your local CareNow. At CareNow, our independent practitioners provide a full range of primary and urgent care services, including extensive occupational medicine

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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.