A 5-panel test is commonly referred to as a “DOT 5-panel” and is required for DOT testing. It is also frequently used for non-DOT testing. In reality, a DOT 5-panel is more like a 7-panel test, as two categories were expanded by the DOT in 2010. The amphetamine category also includes methamphetamine and ecstasy and the opiate category was expanded to include codeine and morphine. These drugs were not as popular when the DOT began drug testing so the panel was updated to better reflect common drugs of abuse around the 2010 timeframe.
When using urine as the testing method, 5-panel drug tests can be conducted using an instant test, if desired. This is considered a screening test, or the first step in the process. If the instant test is negative, that means that none of the substances mentioned above are present in the sample, and no further testing is necessary. Instant testing can be a useful tool for post-accident or reasonable suspicion testing. It provides the knowledge to the employer that the employee may be fit to return to work. However, if the test result is “non-negative” or “presumptive positive,” at least one vial of urine must be sent to the lab for additional confirmation testing using GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry). This is highly sophisticated technology and is extremely reliable for analysis.
5-panel drug testing is reliable, comprehensive and widely accepted for most drug-free workplace programs.