Dealing with Drug Testing Delays

Posted: November 02, 2021

There is no doubt that 2021 will be remembered as the year of supply chain issues as numerous problems have emerged from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, our industry is not immune to the issues as extreme backlogs in federal and workplace drug testing are being reported at every major laboratory in the US and abroad. What’s Causing the Drug Testing Delays? There are many factors that are creating a “perfect storm” for drug testing delays, including:
  1. A nationwide spike in drug screening demand caused by increased hiring as companies try to overcome the ongoing labor shortage.
  2. The labor shortage itself in drug testing collection sites and laboratories.
  3. Delays with transportation systems and logistics.
  4. Shortages in supplies needed to make drug testing kits, including a plastic shortage that has reduced the availability of testing cups.
  5. Issues with using the DOT’s newly mandated chain-of-custody form.
Impacts on Drug Testing Laboratories The national staffing shortage has impacted industry-wide turnaround times at every step in the testing process: from receiving the specimen at the lab to reporting results. Current times for accessioning specimens vary from 3-6 days for domestic orders and seven business days for international orders. To manage this ever-changing environment, laboratories are adjusting their operations daily, including shifting employees to different departments as needed, adding second shifts, adding equipment, and over-hiring to accommodate staffing challenges. Medical Review Officers The laboratory delays have led to an unprecedented increase in calls and emails to the Medical Review Officers (MRO) to check on the status of specimens. As a result, donors may face long hold times if they call to conduct a donor interview with the MRO. How to Deal with Drug Testing Delays
  • Start the drug screening process as soon as possible.
  • Reinforce to your candidates that they should go to the collection sites as quickly as they can.
  • Unless you have a direct relationship with your collection site(s), do not contact them on your own since they aren’t able to talk to you. They will only talk to Third Party Administrators (TPAs) such as your background check vendor. Calling collection sites or laboratories will only exacerbate delays.
  • It is crucial to have realistic expectations regarding current turnaround times.
  • Be patient with your drug testing partner since these factors are out of their control.
  • Make sure that you are using updated chain-of-custody forms.
The Good News Info Cubic’s laboratory partners believe they are on solid footing in implementing long-term solutions to address the turnaround time delays. We are hopeful that the staffing and supply chain issues plaguing our industry will be alleviated soon as more people return to the workforce. Additionally, the problems caused by the old forms should have less of an impact as the new Federal CCF circulates. We understand how frustrating these delays can be for our clients but unfortunately, these issues are out of our control. If you have any questions or concerns about the nationwide drug testing delays, please contact our Client Service Ninjas at (877) 360-4636. Thank you for your patience as we weather this “perfect storm” together.