The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused a lot of changes in so many industries today. One of the many services and providers affected by the pandemic are drug testing providers. While it is perfectly understandable that some operations may need to pause in the present environment, drug testing service is an essential service that needs to continue more than ever.
Despite the threats of this worldwide pandemic, the illegal drug trade continues to thrive. With cities and even entire countries shutting down, this pandemic has brought about stress, fear, and worry about the future. Some people use illegal substances to deal with uncertainty or other external stressors. Because of this, drug testing has never been more important.
The increase of substance abuse could potentially cause more problems such as workplace accidents and the overall safety of the community. In addition to that, safety-sensitive industries like transportation still require their employees to undergo drug testing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S Department of Transportation has issued special guidelines so these requirements can be met despite the challenges we are facing today.
Adjusting Drug Testing Procedures
In order to reduce the risk of contracting or perpetuating the spread the virus within testing facilities, many adjustments have been implemented by drug testing providers.
Lab-based Urine Testing
One of the most common drug testing methods is lab-based urine testing. However, in the present situation, going to a healthcare facility to provide a urine sample can be more harmful than beneficial. For this reason, drug testing service providers are eyeing mobile collection services as a practical alternative.
Lab-based Oral Fluid Testing
In a typical oral fluid testing, the process is done in close proximity with one another making it unsafe to both the donor and collector. However, with this type of testing, the process can be done safely by maintaining at least six feet distance. The collector can wear protective masks and gloves while collecting the oral fluid sample. Drug detection in oral fluid samples can happen within minutes so this alternative is not as concerning compared to other drug testing protocols.
POCT Urine and Oral Fluid
One of the best viable options for drug testing during a pandemic is the use of POCT or point-of-collection urine test and oral fluid devices. They are also referred to as rapid-test result tests that use single-use, disposable test kits that can produce immediate results. These tests don’t have to be performed in a lab and can be conducted in mobile collection services or any collection facility.
Another good alternative that eliminates the need to have an individual in interpreting results is an instrumented POCT. With this, the machine does all the work. Only when the results come out as positive will the sample be sent to a lab for confirmation.
Some types of testing such as EBT or evidential breath testing poses a big risk considering it uses breathalyzers. An easier and safer alternative is saliva alcohol screens. The use of saliva alcohol screening devices is permitted by the Department of Transportation, although an EBT will still be essential for confirmation should one be screen positive.
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