A urine test or saliva sample may not always be the best choice when you suspect than an employee could be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You as the employer may also wish to determine the specific type of drug the employee or prospective employee is using. It is not possible to do this with a urine test or a saliva sample, but you can isolate this information with a blood test.
How Does This Test Work?
If you suspect drug abuse in a current employee or want to test a potential employee for the presence of drugs, you will need to send him or her to a medical laboratory. Once there, a blood draw technician will clean the blood donation area with an antiseptic solution. The most typical spot for a blood draw is the crook of the donor’s elbow. However, some people have such small veins in this area that a technician will not be able to locate a vein or the vein will collapse before the blood can move into a tube. The back of the hand will need to be used as a donation area in this case.
After cleaning and locating an area of the body to take the blood sample from, the technician will place an elastic band around the upper arm of the donor. The purpose of this is to reduce blood flow so the veins will swell large enough for the technician to collect a blood sample. The technician then inserts a small needle into the vein and blood flows into a vial through a tube. The donor is then free to go home after the technician places a band-aid over the crook of the elbow or the back of the hand. It typically takes a minimum of two days and as long as 10 days to receive results from the blood test.
Advantages of a Blood Drug Test
A blood test is the best choice to detect concentrated amounts of drugs or alcohol in a person’s system at the time of the test. You must send the person to a medical laboratory for a blood draw quickly because the presence of most drugs only remains in the blood for approximately 48 hours and alcohol for approximately 24 hours. This is very different from a urine test that can usually detect traces of drugs in the body for several weeks. Additionally, it is much more challenging to pinpoint the exact timeframe when the person consumed drugs or alcohol when using other types of testing.
Disadvantages of a Blood Drug Test
One disadvantage of this type of drug screening test is that it costs significantly more as opposed to other methods of testing. Even so, the cost is justifiable when the person suspected of drug or alcohol abuse is a position of trust with others and their safety depends on him or her being clean and sober. Acting immediately to order a drug test means that an employee or potential future employee does not have enough time to try to get the drug out of his or her system or manipulate the results in any other way.
With such a short testing window available, you may need to back up the results of the blood drug test with other types of tests for a positive confirmation of drug use. Some companies have a drug testing laboratory on site where an employee who has had an accident can report to immediately for a blood test.
The following are some of the most common types of drugs identified with blood drug testing:
As mentioned above, a blood drug test can detect alcohol for up to 24 hours after the last drink and most drugs for up to 48 hours after the last use. Nicotine and the active ingredients in marijuana are two exceptions since a blood test is sensitive to detect those results for at least several weeks after the last use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blood Drug Tests
Employers often have several questions about sending people to take a blood drug test. The following are answers to some of the most common ones.
· How long does it take to receive negative blood test results? It is usually possible to confirm a negative result in 24 hours.
· Does the employee need to make any special preparations for the test? This is not necessary in most cases and he or she should take the test promptly while the presence of drugs can still be detected in the blood.
· Can an employee refuse to submit to a blood test? Anyone can refuse a blood test for any reason. However, you as the employer have the right to determine consequences for this action.
As with all types of drug testing, it is important to weigh benefits and potential drawbacks before choosing which one is right for your business.