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posted Mar 6, 2018, 8:03 AM by Karen Sassaman

ACT NOW: Important drug testing changes

Changes to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug-testing regulations took effect January 1, 2018 and already we are seeing a major impact. The percentage of laboratory positive tests has doubled and the number of safety warnings issued by the MRO has gone up even more. If you act now, there are ways to keep your workplace safer, avoid positive tests and prevent employees from being removed due to safety letters.


What happened?

Four New Opioids, a Change from "Opiates" to "Opioids" and a delay in safety warnings

Effective January 1, 2018, the Final Rule added four semi-synthetic opioids to DOT's standard 5-panel drug

testing: hydrocodone; hydromorphone; oxymorphone; and oxycodone. In addition, the regulations rename the category or class of drugs currently referred to as " opiatesto "opioids."


Medical Review Officers (M RO' s) always issued safety warnings to employers when the MRO learned of   information during the post -drug test interview with the employee/ urine donor that would likely lead to the employee being medically disqualified . What is new is the "5 day pause." The employee has 5 business days to have his or her physician contact the MRO to discuss the safety issue. For exampleif  an employee  tests positive for  oxycodone  and  presents  a prescription  to  the  MRO, the MRO  would  tell  the  employee  that  there  is a potential safety issue and that the employee  has 5 business days to  have the  prescribing physician contact  the  MRO to discuss. After 5 days or after  the discussion takes place, whichever  comes  first, the MRO will then report  the safety issue to  the  employer  if  the  issue cannot be resolved.