Staffing Shortages at Labs Causing Turnaround Delays for Drug Screens

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

As the nursing shortage hits the healthcare system, escalating due to COVID burnout, the laboratory community is facing not enough medical technologists to properly staff the nation’s laboratories.

i3screen is reporting that there are turnaround delays on drug 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.

With staffing shortages affecting the largest drug screening labs across the country, the delays in turnaround will be most visible if there are chain of custody form flaws or drugs potentially found in the specimen.

This is because when it is determined that a chain has a correctable flaw, the lab sends a memorandum of record (or affidavit) to the collector to be completed and sent back to the lab for the technicians to verify again.

An example of a correctable flaw is when the lab receives an old CCF and requests an affidavit to be fixed. The lab cannot proceed with testing the sample until they receive the completed memorandum, which delays the overall resulting times.

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.

Drug and Alcohol Services

At CNS, we offer 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.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or

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