Lab Delays Increase with Quarterly Testing Spike, Shipping Delays, and CCF Errors

Lab Delays Increase with Quarterly Testing Spike, Shipping Delays, and CCF Errors

Many businesses requiring pre-employment or random drug testing are seeing delays in drug tests across the country.

We understand the frustration to get these employees working as quickly as possible. As we continually reach out to labs to check the status of the specimens for our client’s, below are what we are seeing causing the delays.

Shipping delays in drug screen specimens arriving at the lab

These shipping delays are due to heavy package volume caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 business closures, staffing shortages, weather, and other service disruptions.

There is also an especially large volume of specimens at end of each quarter as companies and consortiums need to meet the minimum DOT testing percentage requirements.

At least 50% of DOT governed employees in a testing pool must be randomly tested for drugs while 10% must be tested for alcohol by the end of the testing year. These minimum testing requirements are managed on a quarterly basis.

If these numbers are not met for any pool, every company that has drivers in that pool is out of compliance with the DOT.

Other shipping delays may occur due to the timing of the courier pickup. For example, a specimen collected at 4:50pm might miss the collection site’s courier pickup and would not get to the lab for an extra day. A specimen collected at 8:30am will ship at the same time as every other specimen collected that day (often around 3-5 pm). Also, a specimen collected on a Friday, might not be tested at the lab until Monday.  

These delays are affecting the entire US, not just isolated areas. However, in some isolated cases, specimens are taking up to 7 days to arrive at the lab. 

Lab turnaround delays

With lab turnarounds being an issue, it is important to note that labs are experiencing the same staffing shortages as other businesses. 

In July, i3screen reported that there are turnaround delays on test results due to staffing shortages at several laboratories, affecting both Quest and LabCorp.

Laboratories receive thousands of specimens each night from couriers and lab technicians, review all chain of custody forms to make sure each chain does not have missing information, and perform a Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) test on samples with trace amounts of drugs during the initial screen.

If there is any trace of drugs in that initial screen’s sample, it goes through a GCMS test once or multiple times (after breaking down the urine sample further) until the test produces an affirmative negative, positive, negative-dilute, or positive-dilute result.

Since a batch of drug test samples gets processed once every 24 hours during the GCMS testing, the staffing shortage is likely to backlog these processes further.

For our clients, as soon as a result is reported to the MRO team, we will get the results out as soon as possible. CNS is not experiencing any delays within the MRO department and results that come in from the lab that can be released to the client are sent out within 2 hours. 

Collection site error delays

Errors made by the employer or collection site may require affidavits to be completed and sent back to the lab for the technicians to verify again before they will even run the test.

With staffing shortages affecting the largest drug screening labs across the country, the delays in turnaround will be most visible with these chain of custody form flaws.

An example of a correctable flaw is when the lab receives an old CCF, missing signatures, etc.

In addition, certain affidavits/items are legally required by the MRO team before results can be released such as: DOT upgrades and downgrades, MRO copies of the CCFs, missing temperatures, etc.

These types of errors cause significant delays. 

Drug and Alcohol Services

CNS offers a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.

We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

Questions about DOT Compliance, Licensing, Audits, Programs, etc.?

Our DOT Specialists are here to help!

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