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5 Panel Drug Testing Process

How we test using a 5 panel drug test

Their administration’s technical competency is very thorough, and their understanding of their system is outstanding.
—Mobile Health Client

Mobile Health performs nearly 200,000 drug tests a year, and has a specialized and professional approach to ensure that every test is reported accurately. Our 5 panel drug test is the most popular drug testing method, most commonly used with urine. It may also be tested using hair, blood, or saliva samples instead.

Below is a short summary of our collections, testing, and reviewing workflow. Each step designed specifically for reliability and accuracy.

At Mobile Health

Upon arriving, all patients must present a photo ID when checking-in. This identification is required for any services provided by Mobile Health.

Patients are then asked to place any bags or large jackets in a secure locker. Pockets must also be emptied of any liquids or bottles. This helps ensure no adulterant products are used to contaminate the urine sample.

At this point, the patient is invited to a designated urine sample collections area. This area will have multiple bathrooms with a blue dye in the toilet water to prevent dilution of the urine sample. Communal sinks are available after the urine sample is provided to Mobile Health.

Once the sample is provided to Mobile Health, a temperature strip on the cup is checked to ensure an normal temperature registration. If the temperature is considered too high or low, the patient will be asked to provide a second sample. If refused, it will be reported that the patient was unable to provide a sample.

After the patient signed the appropriate chain of custody documentation, the sample is surrendered and Mobile Health sends it to the laboratory for testing.

At the Laboratory

The first test performed is a  called an immunoassay screen. This screening is a rapid and accurate test that uses antibodies embedded on test strips to reveal evidence of drug use. When sufficient concentration of substances are present, the strip will indicate which have been detected.

The term 5 panel drug test comes from the 5 actual panels in the immunoassay process. These panels, or strips, represent the 5 substances tested for including: amphetamine, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, marijuana (THC).

If none are detected, then the test is determined to be negative.
If the test was unable to be performed, it is considered indeterminate due to possible adulteration or dilution of the sample.

If substances were detected, then the test is deemed positive, which can be a

  • False positive: A rare error in the testing caused a false positive result.
  • True positive: The test correctly identified certain substances correctly.
  • True positive with medically acceptable documentation: The test found certain substances it tested for, but there is a medically acceptable explanation.

Any of the above 3 positive results will always be confirmed through a more sensitive testing method. The most commonly used method is a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test. The GC/MS test identifies specific substances by the metabolite, a chemical created when the drug is metabolized.

The GC/MS test will be able to confirm or deny any false or true positives. Although the test might confirm a true positive, the Medical Review Officer will determine if there is an acceptable medical explanation.

The Medical Review Officer

Once confirmed by the GC/MS test, any positive results will be reviewed by the Medical Review Officer (MRO) to ensure proper collections and testing. It is the responsibility of the MRO to contact any positive individual and determine if there is any medically acceptable explanation.

If the individual presents a valid explanation, then the test result is returned to the (prospective) employer as negative to protect the personal medical information of the individual.

If there is no valid explanation, then the result is returned as positive and the (prospective) employer may now decide on the appropriate next step.