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"Point-of-Work" Drug Testing; A Growth Industry

Posted Oct 17 2011 12:00am

As everyone knows, drug abuse is a major problem in the country. I blogged about workplace drug and alcohol testing problems nearly five years ago, so it's probably time for an update (see: Workplace Drug Testing: Some Statistics ). A press release from USA Mobile DrugTesting focused on employee drug problems in small businesses (see: Small biz employs more drug, alcohol users ). Below is an excerpt from it:

Small businesses may be at increased risk when it comes to hiring employees who abuse alcohol and drugs, according to USA Mobile Drug Testing. Although the government encourages alcohol and drug-free workplaces, a large number of small businesses do not have the necessary policies or testing procedures in place to protect them against substance-abusing employees....[ SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)] says small and medium-sized businesses can avoid this by instituting drug testing programs and putting a drug-free workplace program in place. “Although business owners may think that starting a drug testing program is not possible because they fear the costs or lack the staff to manage it, in reality any business can put together an effective program,” [said a spokesperson for the company]....U.S. Department of Labor studies show that workers who abuse drugs and alcohol are more likely to skip work or, when they are on the job, are one-third less productive, costing employers approximately $7,000 a year. Employees using drugs are also more likely to cause workplace accidents or file workers’ compensation claims. Sardisco notes that having a drug testing program is far cheaper than paying accident or workers’ compensation claims and that some states offer discounts on worker’s compensation premiums just for testing employees.

USA Mobile Drug Testing is a nationally-branded franchise business focusing on mobile drug testing and provides drug and alcohol testing for corporations and government employers. I usually don't post excerpts from press releases but the business model of this company interests me -- "point-of-work" drug testing as an analogue of point-of-care testing (POCT) in inpatient and outpatient settings. On-site mobile drug testing, according to the press release, avoids time away from work for employees. I suspect that the majority of companies utilize the drug testing services of the large national reference labs like Quest and LabCorp . The LabCorp web page addressing employer drug testing has this interesting paragraph:

: Providing consistently good service is our primary focus. We are committed to research and leading-edge technology that enable us to provide your organization with an innovative test portfolio reflecting societal trends, including oxycodone, ecstasy, and medical professionals panels.

I interpret the reference to "societal trends" to mean that the company will test for the "drugs du jour" based on the socioeconomic status of the workers being testing. The need for a "medical professional" panel is probably warranted on the basis that physicians and nurses have access to drugs that the man-on-the-street may have never heard about.

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