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Why the DOT Approved Oral Fluid testing, but You Can’t Use It Yet

by | Jan 25, 2024 | 0 comments

On May 2, 2023, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a change in its alternative drug testing methodology. The DOT has authorized oral fluid as an alternative testing methodology, harmonizing with the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandatory Guidelines that were made effective January 1, 2020. Although they have yet to amend the rules, they anticipate they will.

Certified Laboratories Required 

As of June 1, 2023, employers may not use oral fluid testing until at least two laboratories certified by the HHS to perform this testing exist. At this point, no laboratory holds such a certification. The topic of lab certifications requirements being met by two branches of the same organization is one that comes up often. According to the National Laboratory Certification Program, every lab stands alone. So, for example, it could be two Quest Labs, two LabCorps, or two labs from different lab-certified organizations.

 

What Employers/TPAs Need to Know 

When administering testing, following the drug policies and procedures is crucial to avoid any mistakes. You must choose the type of collection you will issue initially, as you cannot collect both. This helps maintain consistency throughout subsequent collections within the same event. Oral fluid and urine laboratories need to be designated separately as not all labs have certifications for both specimen types. Some labs only have certifications to collect oral, while others only have certifications to collect urine.

It’s also essential to communicate any changes in testing policies to employees, even if a specific date is unavailable. Ensuring employees are informed about upcoming changes helps for a smooth transition, and it is important to set up accounts and notify employees accordingly.

When selecting a lab for testing, it’s best practice to have a standing order with collection sites. This ensures that collection personnel know the type of collection required and when it should be performed. The DER should always be available to address any concerns related to standing orders during the collection process in case any problems arise.

If there needs to be a pivot to another specimen type during a collection event, they need to do that while the donor is there, following collection rules before concluding the process. It’s vital to avoid terminating the collection and resume the next day, as it may compromise the accuracy of the results. Ensure that accurate contact information is pre-printed on the forms to facilitate effective communication. Lastly, have skilled collectors in place to perform the specimen collection accurately.

Thanks for sharing!

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