Work Drug Safe

The Qualities of Point-of-Collection Instrumented Testing

Qualities of Point-of-Collection Testing

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein.

Today employers need consistent, convenient, and accurate drug testing, and they need results quickly to compete for talent in today’s ever-shifting labor market. Instrumented point-of-collection testing (POCT) from a reliable source may be just what the HR department ordered.

The majority of workplace drug tests are conducted utilizing urine samples at certified laboratories where sophisticated machines analyze samples to determine the presence of drugs at or above specified cut-off levels. Lab-generated results can reveal precisely how much of a drug is present in a donor’s system measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). These tests are not subject to a technician evaluating the result to determine if it is positive or negative; instead, the machine or instrument provides the result.

Other drug tests are conducted utilizing single-use, disposable POCT devices that render a rapid qualitative “yes” or “no” result. However, with these devices, a test administrator, either a professional technician or a trained employee, must examine the device and make a judgment call whether the result is positive or negative. Prior to implementing any sort of POCT program, employers should carefully consult state laws to ensure compliance.

Instrumented Point-of-Collection Testing

Instrumented point-of-collection testing combines the most desirable properties of POCT devices and lab testing. This sophisticated and effective testing method offers an immediate, point-of-collection result interpreted by a highly specialized instrument. The instrument removes human interpretation, and renders an objective, consistent result comparable to lab-based testing. It involves a specially designed collection device that is designed to be inserted into a machine or instrument that analyzes the sample for the presence of specific substances. A test administrator is not expected to evaluate the result and make a judgment call; the machine provides the result eliminating the chances of human error.

Instrumented point-of-collection testing combines the most desirable properties of POCT devices and lab testing. This sophisticated and effective testing method offers an immediate, point-of-collection result interpreted by a highly specialized instrument.

If the instrumented test detects drugs at or above the cut-off level, the collector is instructed to send the specimen to a certified laboratory for further testing, and if confirmed positive, verification by a Medical Review Officer (MRO).

When you consider the fact that most lab-based test samples are negative (the national average for positive tests is approximately 5% depending on the reason for the test), instrumented point-of-collection testing makes a lot of sense in a competitive, tight hiring market. With instrumented point-of-collection testing, important employment-related decisions can be made faster while retaining the security and reliability of an accurate instrument-generated result.

What to Look for in a Testing System

A good instrumented point-of-collection testing solution is more than a collection device capable of producing an instant qualitative (positive or negative) result -- it is part of a comprehensive system that supports efficient workflows and delivers reliable results quickly to employers. It needs to be available when and where testing is needed. 

When investigating point-of-collection instrumented testing systems, look for the following qualities:

  • A system that guides the testing process for easy use and consistent results.
  • A system that can guarantee negative urine test results within 5-15 minutes.
  • A sealable, self-contained urine collection device or cup that allows operators to send the specimen in the container that it is collected in, without having to pour the sample into another container to ship to the lab.
  • A system that offers drug panel flexibility and includes relevant illicit and prescription drugs of abuse.
  • A system that includes integrated test strips to test for adulteration and dilution.
  • A provider that offers a nationwide network of facilities using the system to conveniently service your account.
  • A secure, electronic chain-of-custody enable service.
  • A web-based platform that makes it possible for the employer to watch the progress at each stage of the testing process, including the laboratory and MRO in the event of initial screen non-negative results.
  • The use of a web-based result reporting and program management system to enhance the paper-less experience.

Conclusion

Drug testing only works as well as the quality and integrity of the testing system being used. An instant result is great as long as the employer is confident that the result is accurate. Instrumented POCT virtually eliminates the possibility of human error in determining the test result. As such, point-of-collection instrumented testing is growing in popularity as employers grapple with an ever-tightening job market that motivates employers to make hiring decisions as quickly as possible.

Additionally, the legalization of marijuana in many states has created renewed emphasis on the accuracy of all drug test results, including POCT results, given that several of these states have implemented anti-discrimination clauses preventing employers from taking action solely based on a positive test result. Hence, all the more reason for a company wishing to realize the benefits of instant result testing to move toward an instrumented testing system capable of delivering objectively read rapid results that simultaneously eliminates human error in results reporting.

As you study the various drug testing methods available today, look for one that will help you comply with all applicable laws and that aligns well with your company’s drug testing objectives. As you do, you may want to consider point-of-collection instrumented testing.