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Different Tests Require Different Collection Methods

  • Published: Mar, 5 2020
  • Updated: Mar, 5 2020

Drug testing occurs for many different reasons across different fields and professions. In sports, for example, drug testing happens to ensure performance-enhancing substances aren’t being taken to gain unfair competitive advantages. In logistics, federal agencies like the Department of Transportation have made it a part of federal law to test for the use of drugs under specific conditions.

This means that drug testing is just another aspect of professional life for many Americans and that it requires both the presence of qualified labs to analyze and provide results, as well as specimen collectors to get reliable samples. Specimen collectors, however, are important in ensuring those results are, in fact, reliable.

Different Methods, Different Regulations.

Specimen collector training is important for many reasons, though one of the most important is that specimen collection itself must be exact. Without proper protocols in place, a specimen can be contaminated. A urine sample, for example, if it makes contact with water, or has water added to it, can dilute and invalidate results.

On top of this, collection methods differ. Getting a breath sample for alcohol is very different from getting a urine sample for marijuana. And both of these are different from collecting a hair sample for opioids. Beyond the differences in collection techniques, some regulations need to be observed. How the DOT wants samples collected and tested may differ from the way an athletic organization wants its samples taken, and their tests conducted.

The First Line Of Defense

While many people comply with drug testing because it’s just an occupational hazard at work, some will resist or attempt to deliberately sabotage results because a positive indication of drug use could cost them their job. This means that for specimen collectors, it’s not enough to know how to collect samples correctly, there’s also a matter of security.

People will sometimes try to cheat these tests if they know the results will be positive. So, in addition to collecting the samples on a scientifically sound basis, to ensure the integrity of the sample, sample collection and the collection site itself must be secured against cheating.

The Importance Of Training

There are plenty of promising careers in specimen collection, as these are the personnel that is trusted to get clean, viable specimen results, and deter any attempts at cheating. However, this is a learned skill, and it requires training with both the proper techniques and using the right equipment.

While the theory is important, getting the right instruction and ability to practice with the regulation equipment is critical. The proper collection technique starts with getting access to the tools and learning proper usage. Equally important is respecting the protocol of different organizations. While the DOT may oversee all of the transportation in America, it has different agencies to handle different aspects of transportation, so testing and requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration will not be the same as the protocol for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Make sure that you get the right kind of specimen collector training for your industry of interest, such as DOT breath alcohol training, for example.

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