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11/09/2017

Resources to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Upcoming Webinar: The Opioid Epidemic and Drug Testing in Today’s Workplace: Advice for Employers

Source: Fisher Phillips, November 6, 2017

DATE AND TIME: Dec. 1, 2017, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM EST

As many as 50,000 Americans may have died last year alone of opioid-related overdose, and with the use of prescription opioids to relieve pain at staggering levels, that number continues to increase with no end in sight. A recent study showed 2 million Americans had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers, while drug overdose is now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50. Abuse of the drug has had tragic consequences across the nation, ravaging communities and tearing apart families. What role can employers play in combatting this 21st-century drug crisis? 

During this webinar, attendees will learn ways to educate employees about opioid abuse, how to respond to employees who may develop an addiction, and modify their drug testing policy to address this crisis.

Read more about the free webinar or register here. 


DECLARING A DRUG TEST POSITIVE: WHO HAS FINAL SAY ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA?

Source: Working Partners Quarterly Newsletter, Fall 2017

Medical Review Officers (MRO) offer an important level of oversight in drug testing to evaluate the systems-presence of a drug.  These individuals are the last step in the process of determining if a drug test is officially ruled positive or negative.  The MRO’s role is to verify that an individual has a legal explanation, i.e., a prescription, for having a substance in his/her system at the level it shows.

All federally mandated drug tests – long acknowledged for their defensibility and employee privacy protections – require the involvement of an MRO.  These federal testing protocols are considered best practice for drug testing and include these steps

An employee provides a urine specimen at a controlled collection site using a chain-of-custody form.

The specimen is shipped, under specific protocols, to a federally certified laboratory for testing. There, a portion of the specimen is put through a scientific analysis that is said to be 92-98% accurate.

If the specimen is positive at this initial level of analysis, it undergoes a confirmatory testing process called gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to look for the chemical signature of the drugs designated in the test. If the drug or its metabolites are present at or above the pre-announced level then the specimen is ruled scientifically positive.

However, before the employer or the employee know the scientific results, one final check is done. An MRO reaches out to the employee to discern whether there is a verifiable reason that the drug in question is present in the employee’s system at that level.  The test will be “negative” if the employee has a verifiable, legitimate reason.

When it comes to drug testing for marijuana, the proliferation (and variance) of medical marijuana laws have complicated the picture for employers.  While still illegal under federal law, state and even local laws regarding medical marijuana can cause confusion for what could be argued as a legitimate reason for having marijuana in one’s system.  Of course, for a federally required test, the MRO’s ruling for marijuana is clear – a positive test is a positive ruling.

Read the full article.

Additional articles addressing alcohol and drug issues are available here. 


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