Drug Testing? Don’t Forget the Medical Review Officer

Does your organization have a Substance Abuse Screening program for prospective and existing employees?  Well then, you might wonder why a Medical Review Officer (MRO) is so critical to the process.

Joe Reilly from Florida Drug Screening was kind enough to share some insights with us about why an MRO can be helpful in reviewing all substance abuse screening results, not just those that are positive.  The following is an excerpt from his guest article which was published on employeescreen University earlier today:

The MRO must not be an employee or agent of or have any financial interest in the laboratory for which the MRO is reviewing drug test results. Additionally, the MRO must not derive any financial benefit by having an agency use a specific drug testing laboratory or have any agreement with the laboratory that may be construed as a potential conflict of interest. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent any arrangement between a laboratory and an MRO that would prevent the MRO from reporting a problem identified with a laboratory’s test results or testing procedures.

The MRO has the following responsibilities:

(1) Determine that the information on the drug testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) is forensically and scientifically supportable;

(2) Interview the donor when required;

(3) Make a determination regarding the test result;

(4) Report the verified result to the employer or agency ordering the test; and

(5) Maintain records and confidentiality of the information.

Click here to view the full article

The Value and Necessity of An MRO On All Drug Test Results

An essential part of the drug testing program is the final review of results; this is performed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). A positive laboratory test result does not automatically identify an employee or job applicant as an illegal drug user. An individual with a detailed knowledge of possible alternative medical explanations is essential in performing this final review of results. The MRO fulfills this important function. This final review is required in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs initially published in the Federal Register on April 11, 1988 (53 FR 11970-11989) and revised in the Federal Register on June 9, 1994 (59 FR 29908-29931). It is also required by 49 CFR Part 40 for mandatory drug testing required of DOT regulated employees. Many state laws also require that both DOT and non-DOT drug test results be reviewed by an MRO and some states also mandate that DOT or Federal Workplace Drug Testing procedures be followed on all drug tests. For non-DOT testing, just because there is no regulation that requires it; there is absolutely no reason to not use an MRO in the drug testing process – protection from liability and fairness of the process is the issue.

An MRO is defined as a licensed physician who receives laboratory results, has knowledge of substance abuse disorders, and has appropriate medical training to interpret and evaluate an individual’s positive test result together with his or her medical history and any other relevant biomedical information. Only individuals holding either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) degree may serve as MROs for federally regulated programs. It is clear that without appropriate training, one cannot determine the legitimate use of controlled substances as compared to substance abuse. The MRO is the gatekeeper, protecting the rights of the ordering agency and the donor.

The MRO must not be an employee or agent of or have any financial interest in the laboratory for which the MRO is reviewing drug test results. Additionally, the MRO must not derive any financial benefit by having an agency use a specific drug testing laboratory or have any agreement with the laboratory that may be construed as a potential conflict of interest. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent any arrangement between a laboratory and an MRO that would prevent the MRO from reporting a problem identified with a laboratory’s test results or testing procedures.

The MRO has the following responsibilities:

(1) Determine that the information on the drug testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) is forensically and scientifically supportable;

(2) Interview the donor when required;

(3) Make a determination regarding the test result;

(4) Report the verified result to the employer or agency ordering the test; and

(5) Maintain records and confidentiality of the information.

MRO assistants represent the administrative staff under the direct supervision of the MRO. The MRO, along with the MRO assistants’, review all paperwork and data associated with the drug test and provide corrective action notices to any parties that have made errors in completing the paperwork. This is an essential part of any drug testing program. Data and paperwork errors need to be found and corrected on negative results prior to the same error occurring on a positive test and negating the test due to a paperwork error. This corrective action aspect is crucially important to the overall quality control of the drug testing program. It is for this reason that all test results, both positive and negative, should be reported through the Medical Review Office. As the gatekeeper for the integrity of the testing process, the MRO should process all test results.

Any drug that is illegal or requires a prescription in the United States will require a medical explanation if discovered in a urine drug test. The MRO gives the donor an opportunity to provide a legitimate medical explanation, such as a legal prescription, for the positive test result. If the explanation and subsequent proof are appropriate, the MRO will report a negative test result to the employer. If the explanation and proof are not appropriate, the MRO will report a positive test result to the employer.

The use of the Medical Review Officer greatly enhances the validity and reliability of the overall drug testing process. This process helps ensure fairness to the donor and offers more protection to the employer/agency in any case of later litigation due to a “positive” drug test where the donor may have actually had a legitimate medical explanation. It is the job of the MRO to ensure the integrity of the drug test, and without an MRO, there is no assurance of this integrity, and no court should uphold a positive test result not reviewed by a Medical Review Officer.

Joe Reilly is the President of Florida Drug Screening a Florida based third party administrator (TPA) providing drug & alcohol testing services throughout the United States. Joe started Florida Drug Screening in 1993 and since that time has been extremely active in the industry serving for the past eight years as a member of the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) board of directors. Currently the past chairman of the board, Joe served as Chairman of the DATIA board of directors from 2004 – 2008. Joe is well known through the drug testing industry and considered an expert on workplace drug testing issues.

For more articles and information on Substance Abuse Screening please click on the following links:

Helpful Information for Employment Screening & DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing
employeescreenIQ Substance Abuse Screening
LabCorp

Podcast: Attendee Podcasts from the SHRM 2008 Show (Round 3)

In addition to the subject matter content expert podcast interviews from this year’s SHRM Conference, we also  conducted “man [or woman] on the street” interviews with some of the attendees that stopped by the employeescreenIQ booth.  Today, we are excited to posting the last of these interviews.  Among the topics discussed were their thoughts and attitudes and employment screening and background checks. Our favorite responses came when we asked about the biggest resume lies they had seen over the years.

Director ISR HR - University of Michigan

Derek Moss, Director ISR HR - University of Michigan

Director of HR - Howard County Health Department

Veronica Michie, Director of HR - Howard County Health Department

HR Director - Tuthill

Letie Spiak, HR Director - Tuthill

HR - RJ O'Brien & Associates

Tanisha Morris, HR - RJ O'Brien & Associates

Yes, Even The Federal Government Violates Federal Law

Ever heard of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law?  One aide in the Justice Department apparently hadn’t.  You should always let the results of the ACTUAL background check influence your hiring decision and make sure anything else you factor in is allowable under the law.  Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble!

Report accuses Gonzalez aides of misconduct

(CNN) – A scathing new report accuses aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez of committing misconduct, violating Justice Department policy and breaking the law by making hiring decisions based on political ideology rather than professional qualifications. The report by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility singles out Monica Goodling, the department’s former White House liaison, for its harshest criticism.

In Congressional testimony provided under a grant of immunity last year, after her resignation from the Justice Department, Goodling stated that in a “very small number of cases” her decisions “may have been influenced in part based on political considerations.” She did not cooperate in the investigation.

The report notes that the Justice Department’s policy is to not discriminate against career-position applicants on the basis of “politics” and “political affiliation.” However, the report goes on to show Goodling’s background checks on prospective employees included the terms “spotted owl”, “Florida recount”, “Enron”, “Kerry”, “Iraq”, “WMD” (weapons of mass destruction), “abortion”, “gay”, “homosexual”, “sex” and “gun”.

More

Retroactive Background Check Requirements Could Result in Loss of Veteran Teachers

When I came across this headline I thought it would be another great argument for ongoing screening or IQ Review. In reality, many Florida educators never had a proper background check conducted in the first place.

‘Withers said the district is reviewing teachers hired before 2003, which is the year that the district stepped up its screening policies. He said he didn’t know why the policies were stepped up in 2003.’

They may have taught in Southwest Florida schools for years, but a new law could mean a pink slip for veteran teachers.

Teachers, administrators and others now fall under the Ethics and Education Act, which was passed by the Legislature and went into effect July 1.

The new law requires retroactive checks of the criminal records of teachers and employees in contact with students daily, and bars from employment anyone with any felony conviction for a variety of specified crimes.

More

Podcast: Attendee Podcasts from the SHRM 2008 Show (Round 2)

In addition to the subject matter content expert podcast interviews from this year’s SHRM Conference, we also conducted “man [or woman] on the street” interviews with some of the attendees that stopped by the employeescreenIQ booth.  Last week we posted the first few attendee interviews.  Here are three more!  Among the topics discussed were their thoughts and attitudes and employment screening and background checks. Our favorite responses came when we asked about the biggest resume lies they had seen over the years.

Karen Conaway, SR HR Rep at Delta Faucet

Karen Conaway, SR HR Rep at Delta Faucet


 

Carrie Tuma, HR Specialist - Villa St. Benedict

Carrie Tuma, HR Specialist - Villa St. Benedict


 

Ryan Anderson, HR Rep - Foundation Coal West, Inc.

Ryan Anderson, HR Rep - Foundation Coal West, Inc.

Blog Roll: Lying on Resume: Hiding the Elephant

The examples used in this blog are older but the advice is the same; don’t lie on your resume. Some of the comments on the blog are rather scary, one says you should lie, why not? He/She goes on to say:

” You’re just a number to the HR folks. If you hit your numbers, it don’t matter. Only sentimental fools tell the truth. From what I’m seeing on TV, no one cares.”

We know this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially with HR departments that conduct thorough background checks.  HR folks do care! Their job is to bring qualified personnel into their organizations.  In many ways an organizations success and failure begins and ends with them!

Read on

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers, Hold the Background Checks

A few departments after our group photo

A few departments after our group photo

You all may be saying to yourself; “SELF! why hasn’t employeescreenIQ been blogging today?”

Well, today is our annual employeescreenIQ cookout.  We make burgers and dogs for our entire staff and enjoy the the time together outside. We have a great outdoor area at our Headquarters in Cleveland and our staff is enjoying the break!  Everyone gets an extra long lunch today to enjoy the festivities!

So, ladies and gentleman, I am using this excuse to not blog today!! Enjoy the weekend!

7/25/2008 Mass. Proposes Redaction of Identifiers: Bad News for Employment Screening

The state of Massachusetts is proposing some pretty significant regulations in order to protect privacy and limit the opportunity for identity theft. These measures include the following guidelines for court records:

  1. in the case of a social security number, taxpayer identification number, credit card or other financial account number, driver’s license number, or passport number, only the last four digits;
  2. in the case of a birth date, only the year of birth, rather than the exact day or month; and
  3. in the case of a name identified as the mother’s maiden name of a person, only the first initial of that name If accepted, this proposal would eliminate the ability of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA’s) and employers to confirm that a criminal record belongs to an applicant; thereby rendering employment background screening useless.

I have no doubt the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) will be all over this in the next several days and will actively lobby on behalf of the industry. They’ve been pretty effective when issues like these arise. Check out what happened in Oklahoma earlier this year. We’ll stay on top of this and let you know how you can get involved.

See the full proposed guidelines below:

Interim Guidelines for the Protection of Personal Identifying Data in Publicly Accessible Court Documents

Podcast: Attendee Podcasts from the SHRM 2008 Show

In addition to the subject matter content expert podcast interviews from this year’s SHRM Conference, we also conducted “man [or woman] on the street” interviews with some of the attendees that stopped by the employeescreenIQ booth.  Today, we are excited to post the first few attendee interviews.  Among the topics discussed were their thoughts and attitudes and employment screening and background checks. Our favorite responses came when we asked about the biggest resume lies they had seen over the years.

Moira Long, Director of HR at the Mann Eye Institute

Moira Long, Director of HR at the Mann Eye Institute

Steven Wolf, President of Pendeo Homecare

Steven Wolf, President of Pendeo Homecare

Erica Leezer, HR Generalist at Harley Davidson Financial Services

Erica Leezer, HR Generalist at Harley Davidson Financial Services