According to R. Brookler, “Industry Standards in Workplace Drug Testing,” Personnel Journal, (April 1992). Laboratories admit that urine tests are not always accurate. The manufacturers of all drug testing equipment acknowledge that all positive results should be confirmed with a more sophisticated test. The only acceptable drug confirmation test is the costly gas chromatography/mass spectrometer. Without confirmation by an alternative testing method, urine drug tests are not sufficiently reliable to hold up in court.
“Only 85 of the estimated 1,200 laboratories in the United States currently testing urine for drugs meet federal standards for accuracy, qualified lab personnel, and proper documentation and record-keeping procedures. Because private companies are not required to use certified drug testing labs, workers are being asked to put their job security in the hands of a drug test that has insufficient quality controls.”
Even in labs that do meet the minimum standards, there is plenty of room for error. Your urine sample will change hands many times before its actual drug analysis, which increases the risk of mix-ups and errors. Also, the chemical reagents used in drug testing have a limited shelf life, which can cause “false positives”. (A false positive is a sample showing a positive for drug metabolites when there are no metabolites in the person’s system.)
Most states do not regulate the operations of urine drug test labs; in fact, some labs have fewer quality control regulations than restaurants. Your typical private employer may use any lab she/he chooses, which would most likely be the least expensive. Findings from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta stated: “…the labs somehow detected cocaine in as many as 6 percent, and amphetamines in up to 37 percent of urine specimens that were ‘blank” (those containing no drugs at all).”
False positive results during drug testing run high and no laboratory process is completely free from error. False positives also occur at high rates reported from 4 percent to over 50 percent. The high prevalence of false positives ensures that people who are accused by the drug test do not necessarily drug users. False positives can occur for a number of reasons including improper laboratory procedures, samples getting mixed up, paperwork being incorrect or lost, passive inhalation (second-hand smoke), and cross-reaction with prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.
A USA TODAY report indicated that 15 percent of all urine drug tests yield a false positive due to cross-reacting substances. In a UCLA study of 161 legally prescribed and over-the-counter drugs, 65 gave false positive results. A National Institute of Drug Abuse study of 50 labs revealed that all 50 labs responded with some false positive results for drug tests.
False positives also can be caused by glitches in the drug testing technology. In a notorious 1984 incident, 60,000 Army personnel were informed that their drug tests had been wrong. To add insult to injury, federal drug testing costs taxpayers $500 million a year for urinalysis drug testing of government workers.
According to B. Luberoff, cited in W. Holstein, “The Other Side of Drug Testing,” Chemtech, (September 1992). “Today, the most conservative estimates of the number of false positives per year run into the thousands. In fact, the highest estimate of accuracy reported to date shows one false positive in every 700 samples.” Considering the number of times workers are tested, as many as 1 in every 15 workers can expect to have a false positive drug test at some point in his or her career.
An article by Phil Smith in the March 1990 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN suggested that workers who tested positive for marijuana only: 1) cost less in health insurance benefits; 2) had a higher-than-average rate of promotion; 3) exhibited less absenteeism; and 4) were fired for cause less often than workers who did not test positive. Since marijuana is the most common illicit drug used by adults, and the one detected in up to 90 percent of all positive drug tests (half of which are false), this fact has radical implications for current public and employer policies.
At a seminar in Houston on September 1994, communications guru Tom Peters, author of the best-selling book IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE, was asked his reaction to the widespread use of drug testing as a condition of employment, and random drug testing as a condition of continued employment. His thought-provoking answer included the following:
“I think it’s absolute rubbish! Am I for drug-or-booze-impaired employees disrupting others and creating safety hazards in the workplace? Of course not! But that puts the cart before the horse. Put aside productivity and safety issues. Let’s talk about what makes any business tick–super folks who trust one another and are committed to working hard together to create great outcomes for each other and their customers. Trust. Respect. Commitment. Mutual support. Each is wholly at odds with intrusive, impersonal assessment measures. That is, drug tests..”
He goes on to describe himself as “a Bill of Rights freak and a privacy freak. It’s how I feel as a person and, by extension, as a business owner/leader. I run a company that has about 25 employees. They’re wonderful people; that’s why I hired them. I would no more consider asking them to submit to a drug test as a condition of employment than I would try to fly to the moon without a rocket. I am disgusted by the very idea at my place–or yours.”
“No, I’m not going to take a drug test. And nobody who works for me is going to be forced to do so either. And if there were a law that required me to ask them to do it, I’d close my place down before I’d comply. If you want an environment that will breed trust, care and compassion for customers–then stay the hell out of people’s personal space!”
In the JOURNAL OF GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE, David C. Parish of the Mercer University School of Medicine in Georgia reported on a study of 180 hospital employees, 22 of whom had tested positive after being hired. Parish examined supervisor evaluations and other indexes and found “no difference between drug-positive and drug-negative employees” at the end of one year. He noted, however, that 11 of the negatives had been fired during that period but none of the positives had been terminated.
In the May 1987 edition of Laboratory Medicine, Dr. T.P. Moyer of the Mayo Clinic concluded in testing for marijuana on the EMIT test, 15% of the positives would be false.
The November 1992 Issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, printed this surprising result. In a survey of 272 Michigan doctors, 38 percent said they didn’t believe drug tests were accurate.
On April 26, 1985, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Hugh Hansen reported shocking results from blind tests conducted by the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. By sending in blind samples spiked with drugs the following results were obtained from samples sent to thirteen labs. The range of false positive error rates was as follows:
- Barbiturates 0% – 6%
- Amphetamines 0% – 37%
- Cocaine 0% – 6%
- Morphine 0% – 10%
Urine testing is less accurate than the lie detector tests that have been banned from the workplace. Employers who rush into urine testing, wouldn’t dream of giving every worker a lie detector test. Dr. David Greenblatt, Chief of clinical pharmacology at Tufts medical center called the most widely used tests “essentially worthless.”
Clear Choice helps ensure that you pass any Hair Follicle Drug test or Urinalysis drug test for marijuana, THC, cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines, opiates, or PCP.