Medical Review Officer Service: Everything You Need to Know

A review of results in a drug screening is a very important factor for all testing programs. A result deemed invalid, adulterated, or substituted doesn’t automatically mean a tampered sample, nor does positive drug testing results doesn’t necessarily mean that people use illegal substances.

To make detailed interpretations of possible alternative medical explanations of the results, the DOHHS or Department of Health and Human Services calls for MRO or Medical Review Officers’ expert opinion for this purpose. Each credible drug screening lab needs these professional services to provide an independent and expert analysis of positive test outcomes confidentially.

In the event that results are positive, these professionals will decide if it is indicative of drug screening lab in violations of the workplace rules and regulations or if there are other acceptable explanations for this kind of result.

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Qualification of MROs

Based on the Health and Human Services’ mandatory guidelines for workplace drug testing programs, MROs need to be a licensed doctor with a degree in Doctor of Osteopathy or Doctor of medicine. They need to have:

Expert knowledge in pharmacology and toxicology of illegal substances and drugs

Professional training in Human Health Services guidelines for workplace drug screening programs, as well as the chain of custody like reporting and record keeping customs for samples

Proper procedures for reviews, interpretations, and reporting of test results as identified by federal agencies and bureaus served by MROs

Passed the exam conducted by a Human Health Services-approved organization like a sub-specialty board for doctors focusing on the review of federal workers’ testing results or a certifying agency for Medical Review Officers

Restrictions for MROs

The MRO may be an employee or independent contractor of federal agencies. They are the point of contact between the donor, the collector, the company’s representative, and the testing facility. They cannot be:

A staff, worker, or anyone with financial interests in any IITF (Instrumented Initial Test Facility) or testing laboratories where the professional is checking the result of tests

In agreement with labs or Instrumented Initial Test Facility that could be seen as a conflict of interest, or receive financial gains by recommending the use of specific screening facilities

These conditions are put in place to help prevent a possible agreement between the MRO and drug testing facilities that could jeopardize or influence partiality in checking test results.

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Responsibilities of MROs

MROs review all samples that have been reported positive, invalid for screening, adulterated, substituted, or rejected from testing laboratories. They are tasked to report the verified or confirmed results to state agencies. They need to make sure that all samples reported as dilute or negative are appropriately reviewed and reported to the right agency.

These professionals review every state agency blind sample’s outcomes and do the investigation into the test results that aren’t consistent.

They conduct or facilitate the medical assessment of the individual who provided the sample when the collector calls for licensed medical professionals services.

Determine the accuracy, as well as potential invalid screening results with the Instrumented Initial Test Facility or lab, and determine whether more testing is needed.

They keep all drug screening information and medical record of patients a secret.

These qualifications, responsibilities, and restrictions of the Review Officer mentioned above are stated in the United States Department of Transportation Rule 49 CFR Part 40.

The role of the Medical Review Officer includes:

Checking the test panel to see if it was properly used

Verifies if the collection of samples was done correctly

Contact workers with positive drug screening results to find out if they have a medical history or use prescription drugs legally.

Reports drug screening outcomes (whether positive or negative) to the company

The Medical Review Official protects the company when it comes to making decisions involving drug screening results. Although these professionals’ reviews are not required in private companies under the United States Department of Transportation, hiring these professionals for workplace screening programs is highly recommended.

Companies that are planning to hire these professionals may refer to AAMRO or the American Association of Medical Review Officers or similar groups.

What are MRO reviews?

These reviews are a requirement for every DOT drug screening. Although the law does not require medical review officer services, it is recommended to use MRO services to help interpret the outcome and assure both the subject and the company of these tests’ accuracy.

MRO reviews include the following steps to guarantee impartial and accurate results:

Check if the test panels were used and administer properly

Evaluate the handling of sample collections

In cases of negative outcomes, check the Chain of Custody Form copy to establish fatal or correctable errors that may require to cancel or correct the testing procedure

In cases of positive results, provide the individual a chance to explain their side or the presence of drugs found on their system. If the presence of the substance is legitimate because of a medical prescription, the screen is deemed negative

Report the test result of the last screening to the company after verifying the worker

These reviews make sure that facilities used the right panel that the test was conducted in the right way, and collectors followed proper procedures. A positive result calls for the professional to contact the subject to establish the presence of illegal drugs is because of legitimate medical prescriptions for treatments of existing health conditions.

They will ask the subject to present valid prescriptions or physician’s verifications of their health treatment in support of the positive result to merit negative reports. In cases where workers fail to qualify their positive result, the professional has no other option but to report it as positive.

These reviews make sure that the company is appropriately protected from workers’ false claims that their positive results are because of ongoing medical treatment. These reviews relieve the company of dealing with complicated matters related to the release or disclosure of workers’ medical information.