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NHADA Workers' Compensation Trust Aug 26, 2020 2 min read

Best Practice: Wait for Drug Test Results Before Putting People to Work

Although it is an acceptable practice (with a properly crafted conditional job offer letter), a recent claim received by the WCT reveals why it is a good idea to wait for drug test results before allowing new employees to start working.

Normally, results of a drug test are received very quickly (within hours) from the provider. There are times however, when additional lab testing is needed and this takes more time. If the applicant tests positive for a medication, the medical review officer has to contact the applicant to determine if they have a prescription for the drug for which they tested positive. Usually this takes a couple of extra days, perhaps longer if the applicant does not return the MRO’s calls. It is important that employers do not make assumptions when testing takes longer. A longer wait doesn’t always mean the individual tested positive. Patience is the key here.

In being patient, WCT members should take the extra step and not allow the individual to work until the results are received from the provider and a recent claim clearly demonstrates why.

Recently, an individual received a conditional job offer and took a drug test. The person started work and within a short time was injured and sent to the emergency room. The individual ended up being thrown out of the hospital because he became belligerent when he didn’t get the pain medicine prescription he was clamoring for. The WCT member received positive drug test results from the provider and subsequently revoked the job offer when the employee returned after being released to full duty by the hospital. The claim could have been potentially much worse had the employee not been cleared to full duty.

The lesson to be learned is it’s worth it to wait for test results.