When a pre-employment drug test is cancelled, it poses a particular problem for employers. Namely, the employee whose test got cancelled must receive a verified negative drug test result to commence working. A cancelled drug test does not meet the criteria.
The medical review officer (MRO) takes this fact into consideration. The MRO will not leave you, the employer, out to dry. In fact, usually just the opposite is the case.
You can think of the MRO as a concierge service in the event of a pre-employment cancelled drug test. They will tackle most of the work. They are doing their job after all. And they will direct you on what you need to do at the appropriate time.
At the same time, it pays to know what’s going on around you. People botch things. It’s inevitable. MROs are no exception.
Why Was the Pre-Employment Test Cancelled?
How the MRO proceeds, as well as how the MRO directs the employer to proceed, partly depends on why they cancelled the test in the first place.
There are several reasons why labs and/or MRO’s cancel a drug test. We actually have a post discussing those very reasons. Click the link if you’d like to learn more about cancelled drug tests in general.
One of the cogs in the testing process may reject for testing or cancel a drug test if they find a clerical error that the perpetrator is unable to correct in a timely manner.
For cancellations of this variety with a pre-employment drug test, the MRO will simply require a recollection for the employee. You must make sure the employee does this recollection immediately.
Also, the MRO will indicate whether the recollection needs to be directly observed or a standard recollection. Make sure to take note of which one is required.
But What if it is Not Cancelled Due to a Clerical Error?
The action you must take gets a little murkier if the lab reports an invalid result to the MRO. An invalid result is one in which the urine specimen does not pass the lab’s validity testing.
If the lab finds that the specimen was adulterated or substituted by the employee, it is a verified refusal to test result. That doesn’t fall under the purview of this blog post; it is not a cancelled pre-employment drug test.
But an invalid result is different. It typically means that something is dubious about the specimen. And it could impact the results of the drug test, but the lab cannot confirm tampering.
These are the situations relevant to this blog post. The MRO is going to cancel the pre-employment drug test, but the required course of action depends on why the test came back invalid.
No Legitimate Medical Explanation
Upon receiving an invalid result from the lab, the MRO first discusses the result with the lab. If it is possible that another lab could test the specimen with more success, they will agree to send the specimen to the aforementioned lab.
You can rest assured that the labs and MROs are not reporting invalid and cancelled test results fast and loose from the hip. They would like to avoid a cancelled pre-employment drug test just as much as you would.
If not, though, the MRO reaches out to the employee. The MRO is looking for any medical explanation for the invalid result. It may come in the form of medical conditions or medications.
If they do not find a legitimate medical explanation, then the MRO will tell you to do a directly observed recollection with the employee. You need to make sure that the employee does this recollection immediately and that the employee has as little notice as possible going into the test.
You don’t want them to have time to scheme their way out of a positive result.
Also, you need to make sure that your drug testing company and collector know the retest must be directly observed. Direct observation drug tests are when the collector watches the employee provide the specimen. It leaves less wiggle room for shenanigans.
If the retest is not directly observed, the MRO will cancel the test again. If you’d rather get it over with, then you need to make sure it is directly observed.
Legitimate Medical Explanation
If the MRO finds a legitimate medical explanation for the invalid lab result, the MRO would typically cancel the test and not require a recollection.
But because the employee requires a pre-employment verified negative drug test result, the MRO requires you to have the employee do a recollection. Just as in the other situations, the recollection must occur immediately and without notice.
That being said, if the MRO finds a legitimate medical explanation for the invalid test result, that often means that the employee is unable to provide a valid test result. His or her medical situation makes it impossible.
And of course, the inability to produce a negative test result creates an issue in the context of a pre-employment drug test.
The MRO Has Legitimate Medical Explanation for the Invalid Result. But the Employee Can’t Provide a Valid Test Result. What Now?
If the employee is unable to produce a negative result, they must do a medical evaluation with either the MRO or a physician acceptable to the MRO. The MRO has to determine whether the employee is an illicit drug user or not.
The MRO will communicate the need for a medical evaluation both to the employer and employee. Then they will work to schedule the medical evaluation with either the MRO or a physician that the MRO is okay with.
Also, the MRO may reach out to the employee’s physician. In doing this, the MRO is looking at both the validity of the long-term medical condition as well as whether the physician has noticed any signs of illicit drug use.
If the MRO doesn’t find signs of illicit drug use, they will report a verified negative result to the employer. At this point, the employee can begin safety-sensitive work.
The links here direct you to a post covering what safety-sensitive functions are as well as the specific safety-sensitive roles for FAA and FMCSA-regulated companies. If you’re curious, you should check it out.
But if the MRO finds signs of illicit drug use, they will report another cancelled test. At this point, though, the cancelled test is a dead end. It isn’t a positive result. But the employee cannot perform safety-sensitive functions. It’s like the ferris wheel breaking down while you’re waiting in line. Maybe next time.
The Recollection Results in Another Invalid Result
Let’s say you received a cancelled pre-employment drug test from the MRO. You required an immediate recollection from the employee. The employee did the recollection. Everything went as it was supposed to.
But then, the recollection comes back invalid again. What happens now? The employee still needs a verified negative pre-employment drug test to begin performing safety-sensitive functions.
There are two different avenues in this instance. One is when the test comes back invalid for the same reason as the first invalid test. Another is when the test comes back invalid for a different reason than the first test.
The Recollection is Invalid for the Same Reason as the Initial Collection
You must go through the same process as in the case where the employee is unable to produce a valid urine specimen. The employee must undergo a medical evaluation with the MRO or physician to determine whether signs of illicit drug use exist.
If there are no signs, you will get a verified negative result from the MRO, and the employee can begin safety-sensitive functions.
If there are signs, you will get another cancelled test from the MRO. The employee cannot do the work he was hired to do.
The Recollection is Invalid for a Different Reason as the Initial Collection
If the recollection is invalid for a different reason than the first test, the MRO will tell you to require a directly observed recollection again with the employee. You must do this immediately and without any notice for the employee.
Final Word for Cancelled Pre-Employment Drug Tests
As you may have noticed, in most instances of a cancelled pre-employment drug test you must have the employee do a recollection. In some cases the employee must do a directly observed recollection. In others just a standard recollection.
Only in the instance where an employee is medically unable to produce a valid urine specimen does the action taken vary. In this case, you must have the employee do a medical evaluation to rule out signs of illicit drug use.
But in all cases, the MRO will communicate to you the necessary actions. Just hope you don’t get stuck in line for a broken down ferris wheel.