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4 mins read

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016 – On Monday John Smith interviews for a CDL position at ABC Delivery. He is perfect for the job and is sent to the local clinic to take a pre-employment drug test. The hiring manager is anxious to get the result so he can make a delivery scheduled for Thursday. By Wednesday evening there is still no result. What could be the hold up?

Waiting on a drug test result can cost money and cause stress. In order to understand why drug test results are sometimes delayed, we need to understand the DOT-regulated drug testing procedures.

What happens after a drug test is taken

After the collection is complete, the urine specimen is sealed and sent to the laboratory for testing. Upon receipt, the laboratory will test the specimen for drugs in the order it is received. The laboratory then sends the drug test result to the Medical Review Officer (MRO). At that point, provided the MRO has received its copy of the Federal Custody & Control Form (CCF), they can report the result out to the company’s Designated Employer Representative (DER).

Problems that can hold up a drug test result

Provided the result is negative and there are no other problems, the process described above ordinarily takes between 24 and 72 hours. Below are a few common reasons why a drug test may be delayed:

#1: Positive Test Result

A positive drug test is going to take longer for the laboratory to report to the MRO. This is simply because there are more specific tests that must be completed at that point, such as the levels, or the amount, of controlled substance(s) found in the specimen.

Once the laboratory has reported a positive test to the MRO, the MRO must attempt to contact the donor to conduct an interview in order to verify whether there is any medical reason (such as a valid prescription) for the positive result. The MRO must attempt to contact the donor at least 3 times within 24 hours. If no contact is made, the MRO must contact the DER so he or she can attempt to reach the donor. If no contact is made after 10 days, the result will report out as a “no-contact” positive.

If the MRO is able to conduct the interview and the donor claims there is a medical reason for the positive, he/she has up to 5 days to provide a valid prescription.

#2: MRO doesn’t receive its copy of the CCF

In order to verify that there were no errors during the collection process, the MRO must receive a legible copy of the CCF from the collection site.

#3: The specimen is delayed in transit to the laboratory

Unforeseen circumstances, such as inclement weather or traffic, may delay the delivery of a specimen. Likewise, a drug test that is taken just prior to a holiday may hold up the result.

Questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments section below!


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