Split Specimen Testing 101: What You Need To Know

When it comes to drug screening for employees, how much do you know about split specimen testing and the rights of the employee to have this done? Many companies don’t know all of the in’s and out’s of it.

What Is A Split Specimen Test?

A split specimen test is when the employee’s urine sample is split between two specimen cups in order to have a second sample tested if the employee wants this done. Most companies automatically do this, as it’s generally a DOT requirement. One sample is immediately tested by a certified laboratory, while the other sample is stored.

If an employee’s sample comes back positive for drugs, that employee is notified by a medical review officer (MRO) and will be given the opportunity to send their second sample to a different certified laboratory for a re-test. By having two of the same samples, a lab can determine if a mistake was made the first time in testing. The employee has 72 hours from the point of notification to request the second sample to be tested.

If the second sample fails to confirm the findings from the first tested sample, the specimen is declared negative for drugs.

Who Pays For A Split Specimen Test?

If the employee does choose to have their sample re-tested, the payment for it will be up to the company’s written drug-free workplace policy. If the responsible party for paying for a second test isn’t named in the policy, the employer usually has to foot the bill. An employee can still request the second testing even if they can’t pay for it.

The OTETA Of 1991

This concept of split specimen testing was made mandatory in 1991 with the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act (OTETA). This act gives employees the chance to provide split specimens, and the act also states that the employee is the only one who can request a second sample testing. The MRO can’t, the employer can’t, and the Department of Transportation can’t—only the employee can.

The act was put into place to protect employees against laboratory mix-ups, mistakes, faulty equipment, false positives caused by foods or medications, and so forth.

Split Specimen Testing Benefits The Employer, Too

Split specimen testing also benefits the employer, since it eliminates the possibility of tampering with a sample for a second try. Many times, when an employee wants to be re-tested for drugs, they will provide a new sample of “clean” urine that they may have purchased, or they may have flushed their system. The split specimen drug screening will re-test the exact same urine that they originally submitted, so there will be no way that an employee could change the sample.

There are many variations of split sample testing cups out there, but many companies simply use two vials.

New Era Drug Testing is a DOT drug testing company providing programs and solutions for companies seeking to be DOT-compliant, including truck companies, luxury car services, cruise lines, and more. If you have any questions about drug screening methods, please contact us.