Laboratory Drug Testing Services

November 1, 2000 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Workplace drug testing is at an all-time high among major employers in the United States, according to the American Management Association's (AMA) most recent survey of workplace testing policies.1 Currently, some 81% of major U.S. businesses test for drug use; since 1987, drug testing in major U.S. organizations has increased by 277% (see Who's Testing?).

Drug testing consists of three stages:

Hospitals, laboratories, occupational medicine clinics, and medical offices may contract with employers to provide any or all of these services. Hospitals that perform drug testing consider it an important service to offer to employers in their markets. In addition, drug testing may generate referrals for other services, such as substance abuse treatment, provided by hospitals.

Employers may use the results of drug tests for a variety of purposes, such as to require that an employee be placed in a drug treatment program or to take disciplinary action. Drug test results may also have civil and criminal implications for individuals tested. For this reason, all drug testing services must have a risk management program to prevent faulty results.

There are two nationally recognized certification programs for laboratories offering drug-testing services. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) administers a certification program, called the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP), for laboratories that test federal employees. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), whose employees represent the bulk of federal workers tested for drugs, and other federal agencies require that regulated employers use DHHS-certified labs for drug testing. DHHS has certified...

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