Who can see my drug test results?

Q:

Who can see my drug test results?

A:

The individual who have access to your drug test results will vary depending on the circumstances of the testing. Examples of people who may see your drug test results include a Medical Review Officer (MRO), selected employees in the human resources department, safety managers, and the employer’s Designated Employer Representative (DER). A Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) may sometimes see the results as well.

The results of your drug test are confidential and may only be revealed without your consent in limited circumstances. When an issue of workplace safety is involved, it is more likely that those with a need-to-know will be able to view your results without your consent. In other circumstances, such as pre-employment testing or testing as part of a workplace drug testing program, you are usually required to sign a consent form to permit your results to be shared in limited capacity on a need to know basis. The type of drug testing performed will determine who is able to view the results. For instance, a saliva drug test may be used for point-of-collection screening. In this situation, the collector who receives your saliva sample will perform an initial drug test and view the results.

Who Can See My Mandatory Department of Transportation Drug Test Results?

Employees holding safety-sensitive positions covered by Department of Transportation (DOT) rules must undergo drug testing that follows detailed DOT’s procedures. For DOT drug testing, you will be asked to provide a urine sample. A collector will prepare the sample for delivery to an approved laboratory for analysis, filling out the necessary paperwork and procuring your signature on it. Once analysis is completed, your results will be shared with a Medical Review Officer. The MRO will investigate any positive test result or any report from the lab indicating that the specimen was adulterated. This allows you the opportunity to provide a medical explanation for these results. Following this review and the MRO’s final determination, a Designated Employer Representative will be informed of the results.

You should also be aware that if you are tested for a safety sensitive position under DOT guidelines, any positive test result will become a part of your employment record and will be shared with any future employer who hires you for a DOT regulated position.

What Are My Rights Under Privacy and HIPAA Laws?

The primary federal law in the United States relating to the confidentiality of your drug test results is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law required covered entities, such as medical provider and drug testing labs, to not share your protected health information except in certain situations. To comply with HIPAA, your medical records, including your drug test results, may be kept in a medical file separate from your general employment record. When results from lab tests are sent to your employer, they should be sent only to authorized individuals and using methods that protect your privacy. In most instances, a health care provider or another facility that is a covered entity will require your employer to submit an authorization form signed by you before releasing your test results to ensure that your HIPAA rights are not violated.

In limited circumstances, other federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may also limit when and how your drug test results may be shared.

Each state also has its own laws governing your right to privacy. The specifics of each state’s law may vary but, in general, an employer is expected to only divulge information regarding your medical history if it is related to your work performance, your safety, or the safety of your workplace. Your employer should have a written drug testing policy that outlines when and why you can be tested and also who may view your test results.

What if I Refuse to Consent to Disclosure?

If you refuse to permit your test results to be shared with your employer, then you will be deemed to have refused to test. The consequences of a refusal to test can include dismissal.

The Department of Transportation has issued an advisory opinion indicating that to comply with DOT rules, your drug test results may be released to designated individuals without your consent. According to this advisory, your drug test results may be disclosed without authorization to your employer, a Medical Review Officer, and a Substance Abuse Professional. In some cases the MRO may need to disclose your results to your personal physician or pharmacist and may do so without your written authorization. Upon legal request, your results may also be shared with Federal, state, or local safety agencies without your written consent. Finally, your test results may be disclosed if doing so in a necessary defense to a legal action such as a claim of wrongful dismissal or for workman’s compensation.

Have a question? Ask John here.

View all questions from John Hawes.

Share this:
Written by John Hawes
Profile Picture of John Hawes

John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

  Full Bio