US Drug Test Centers Blog

Why Using a SAMHSA Certified Lab is Important

Posted: Aug 23 2016

By: Ashlee Arnold

Drug testing policies are commonplace in many agencies and companies. There is pre-employment screening that involves drug testing, and no one is surprised when the request for drug testing comes. Since drug testing is routine, it's also a very big business. Many companies have entered into existence over recent years that are looking to provide drug testing for enterprises and agencies. However, let us be clear about what is most important when it comes to contracting a company for drug testing. One needs to consider how reputable that company is and if it can hold up in a court of law, if it ever came to that.

Established in 1992 under the federal administration for mental health services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a federally recognized leader in substance abuse and is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. When it comes time to seek the best in a laboratory and sample supplies for drug testing, SAMHSA is the only organization that can supply companies and agencies with everything they require for monitoring and drug testing.

Less reputable companies can supply testing equipment that has substandard ratings and can sometimes cause inaccurate results from the tested subject. There is a potential for a positive result from a urine or oral sample from the subject that needs to be validated. With the use of drug testing companies that are not actively monitoring their supplies the way SAMSHA has, the retesting of the sample can provide a negative result. That does not necessarily mean the subject's sample is a false-positive. It is possible that since the laboratory is not testing at the same level as the oral or urine sample, the cutoff, or testing level may not be as low as the original testing supplies.

The testing laboratories at SAMHSA facilities are aware of the potential of varying drug test results and to make sure each of their sample cups and oral swabs are accurate within the retesting in the laboratory, the cut-off or testing levels are identical. This is a very important consideration when you are looking into finding the right drug testing company that can handle several clients at once and accurately.

filling test tubes with purple liquidSAMHSA has an active advisory board that keeps its employees and administrators abreast of current and changing laws when it comes to drug testing. There are Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Employee Drug Testing Programs that must carry consistencies throughout every agency and company that SAMHSA supplies. The advisory board has professionals that are uniquely qualified in their respective fields to review scientific evidence in the area of drug and alcohol treatment and testing practices. Since many insurance companies require so much from workplace management, more and more companies have decided to implement a drug-free work environment.

While the initial screening process can eliminate potential problems, companies are looking into active random employee drug testing. SAMHSA has a program that will work for businesses. When it comes time to look into the changes, let SAMHSA professionals help plan and implement non-invasive programs for employees as well as provide evidence-based suggestions for employees who are seeking guidance with drug or alcohol-related issues. Many employees who ask for help from their employers are not able to take advantage of the prevention programs or intervention programs that will help employees make significant life choices and aide organizations with the government guidelines regarding substance-related concerns.

SAMHSA has professionals who can advise, access workplaces, and identify a plan for drug-free workplaces that adhere to the Department of Labor guidelines.

Within SAMHSA, the Division of Workplace Programs has Health and Human Services (HHS) certified laboratories that are strictly enforced to maintain forensic drug testing. Federal and local agencies must maintain federally regulated programs and SAMHSA follows these strict mandatory guidelines regarding the collection and testing of urine specimens.

microscopeThere are several certification processes that help determine the best way to collect samples. Although urine is the most common way to test subjects, there are also alternatives in available testing, including hair samples, oral fluid, sweat patches. When you use SAMHSA certified laboratories for testing sample collections, you can be sure the results will be tested consistently and interpreted in a preset structure that maintains the integrity of the results. There will be no question about the testing results.

As of July 2016, SAMHSA has 29 certified laboratories in the United States and one laboratory in Canada. There are various options when it comes to testing. Samples collected can be tested against several substances including methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. There are also considerations for people who are taking prescription medication including, chlorpromazine, ephedrine, and Dextromethorphan (often used in cough suppressants). SAMHSA certified laboratories can determine exactly what is tested.

Companies following the mandatory guidelines have a set amount of test panels and the SAMHSA testing laboratories and collection sites understand the threshold of certain medications and narcotics and will report openly on the results from the samples. Part of the federal guidelines that help SAMHSA maintain its certification is to ensure that facilities that are collecting samples adhere to the urine specimen collection for federal agency workplaces. All collections sites must maintain chain of custody records that detail the attendance of the sample. All employees who are certified as collectors are required to preserve their collector training packets and must supply records to their employer upon request. All SAMHSA collection site records must be kept for a minimum of two years.

All copies of the collection documents, including the electronic and hard copies, must be stored in a secure facility and disposed of that protects donor confidentiality. While SAMHSA has collection sites through the states that perform the initial specimen collection, there is a need to have collectors that travel to various locations (including the site of accidents) to collect specimens from donors. Donor integrity is maintained and the SAMHSA certified collectors are responsible for specimen chain of custody. SAMHSA isn't just about maintaining a strict certification process; they want to make sure donors are handled appropriately when providing samples. Let SAMHSA laboratories take care of your business.

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