CRITICAL NEED-TO-KNOW INFORMATION FOR ALL DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES REGARDING THE ADDITION OF FOUR SEMI-SYNTHETIC OPIOIDS TO THE DRUG TESTING PANEL, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2018
DOT Drug Testing Panel Changes
Effective January 1, 2018, all DOT drug testing panels will be expanded to include four semi‐synthetic opioids (oxymorphone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone) for all DOT-regulated employees including FMCSA, FAA, FRA, FTA PHMSA, and USCG. Also added is methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte and MDEA (methylenedioxyethylamphetaime) has been removed.
How Will These Changes Affect DOT Employees?
In addition to the current DOT five-panel test, which includes marijuana metabolites, cocaine metabolites, phencyclidine (PCP), amphetamines (including methamphetamine, MDMA and MDA/ecstasy), and opioids (6-acetylmorphine/heroin, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone). Some common semi‐synthetic opioids include Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, OxyContin®, Norco®, Lortab®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.
As a DOT employee, if you test positive for any of the semi-synthetic opioids, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will conduct an interview with you to determine if there is a legitimate medical explanation for the result. If you have a valid prescription, you should provide it to the MRO, who will determine if the prescription is valid. If you do have a legitimate prescription, the MRO will report the result to your employer as a “negative” test result. If not, the MRO will report the result to your employer as a “positive” result. If a “positive” is reported, the employee would be removed from safety-sensitive duties, would need to see a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), and would have return-to-duty and follow-up testing conducted for a specified period of time. This process has not changed. However, when an employee has a positive lab test result that is reversed due to that employee possessing a valid opioid prescription, the MRO will give the employee up to five business days to allow the employee’s prescribing physician time to contact the MRO to decide if the medication can be changed to something that is non-narcotic so that the employee does not pose a safety risk or become medically unqualified to perform his or her job.
What Responsibilities Do Employers Have Regarding These Changes?
Employers of DOT-regulated employees need to educate their employees regarding the regulatory changes, update their policies, make sure employees know that they are being tested for these additional opioids and that they may be subject to the five-day waiting period described above, update their job descriptions to reflect the ability of the employee to be constantly alert and safe, and recommend that employees see their prescribing physicians to see if there is an alternative medication that may be prescribed in place of the opioid. For assistance with policy creation or updates or any questions you may have, contact Karen Kitchen, owner/compliance specialist at USA Mobile Drug Testing of Northeast Ohio at 440/653‑5003, option 1, or [email protected]