Dilute Specimens

Understanding Dilute Specimens: The What, How, and Why

Drug testing is an essential part of many industries, such as transportation, energy, manufacturing, and healthcare. These industries rely on a safe and drug-free workforce to minimize accidents, injuries, and errors. However, drug testing is not always straightforward, and sometimes, the results can be confusing or inconclusive. One such situation is a dilute specimen. In this blog post, we will discuss what a dilute specimen is, how it can affect drug testing results, and what you need to know as an employer, owner operator, or HR and risk professional. We’ll also cover related topics, such as drug panels, drug screen locations, DOT policies, and drug and alcohol awareness training.

What is a dilute specimen?

A dilute specimen is a urine sample that has a low concentration of substances, specifically creatinine and specific gravity. Creatinine is a waste product produced by the muscles, and specific gravity is a measure of urine concentration. In other words, a dilute specimen is a sample that has more water in the urine that what is to be expected. Dilution can occur naturally if a person drinks a lot of fluids or takes diuretics, such as caffeine or alcohol. Dilution can also be intentional if a person tries to cheat on a drug test by diluting their urine to mask the drug metabolites.

If the specimen is dilute, does that mean the person is cheating?

Not necessarily. Although dilution can be a sign of cheating, especially if the person has a history of drug use or is undergoing drug testing for a specific reason, such as probation or pre-employment, dilution can also be innocent. For example, some people may drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, especially in hot weather or after exercising. Some people may also take over-the-counter medications that can dilute their urine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Therefore, a dilute specimen should not be automatically assumed to be a cheating attempt, but it should be further investigated and analyzed.

How can a dilute specimen affect drug test results?

A dilute specimen can affect drug test results in several ways. First, dilution can lower the concentration of drug metabolites in the urine, making it harder to detect them. This can lead to a false negative result, meaning the person tested negative for drugs when they actually used them. Second, dilution can affect the accuracy of the test, as some tests require a certain level of creatinine and specific gravity to be considered valid. If the level is too low, the test may be considered invalid or inconclusive, and the person may need to be retested. Third, dilution can delay the test results, as the sample may need to be sent to a laboratory for further testing or confirmation.  You should have dilute specimens addressed in your policy so all applicants and employees are treated fairly and uniformly.

What are the common drug panels used in drug testing?

Drug panels refer to the number and type of drugs included in a drug test. Typically, drug panels range from 1 to 12 drugs, with 5 and 10 panels being the most common ones. A 5 panel drug test usually tests for the most commonly abused drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP). A 10 panel drug test usually tests for these drugs plus additional ones, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, methaqualone and propoxyphene. The choice of drug panel depends on the industry, the job position, and the company’s policies.

Where can you find a drug screen near you?

If you need to arrange for drug screening, you can find a drug screen location near you by using Workplace Screening Intelligence’s online directories or portal.  WSI has a nationwide network of 20,000 plus collection sites that are certified and accredited near your workplace or your employee’s home.  If you know the zip code, or city and state, ordering is as simple as calling our support team at 844-573-8378 and you can be tested today.   

Other helpful information

The FMCSA Clearinghouse

The FMCSA Clearinghouse is a secure online database that contains information about commercial drivers who have violated DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations. The Clearinghouse helps employers and law enforcement agencies identify drivers who are prohibited from operating commercial vehicles due to drug or alcohol violations.  Employers must complete a pre-employment query on each driver and an annual query on all drivers each year.  Employers or their CTPA report positive alcohol results and collection site refusals.  The Medical Review Officer (MRO) reports positive drug test and medical refusals.

DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

The DOT has strict drug and alcohol testing policies that apply to all safety-sensitive employees, including truck drivers, bus drivers, and pilots. The DOT drug and alcohol testing policy requires pre-employment testing, random testing, post-accident testing, and reasonable suspicion testing. If an employee tests positive for drugs or alcohol, they must complete a substance abuse program before returning to work. The DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing policy is the bible for employers and employees to have a clear understanding of rights and responsibilities.  If you need assistance with creating a new DOT Drug and Alcohol Policy or updating to make compliant with current DOT regulations, contact our support team today at 844-573-8378 or support@workplacescreening.com

Supervisor Drug and Alcohol Awareness Training

The DOT requires supervisors to receive drug and alcohol awareness training to help them identify employees who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Supervisors must receive at least 120 minutes of training on drug and alcohol testing regulations, signs of drug and alcohol use, and the consequences of violating DOT drug and alcohol testing policies. Supervisor Drug and Alcohol Awareness Training is incredibly important with taking the time to make sure each supervisor understands about impairment and how to identify and document impairment.  The Supervisor Drug and Alcohol Awareness Training can provide a ton of savings opportunities as each impaired driver is removed from the workplace, there will be decreased accidents and improved productivity.

Random Consortium

A Random Consortium is a group of employers who pool their employees’ names together to comply with DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations. The consortium facilitates random drug testing for each employer, making it easier and more cost-effective for small businesses to comply with federal regulations. Employers who are not part of a consortium must conduct their own random drug tests.  WSI has a Random Consortium for DOT and NONDOT employees.  We also offer standalone pools for larger companies.

In summary, understanding what a dilute specimen is, how it can affect drug testing results, and how to deal with it requires knowledge and expertise. As an employer, owner operator, or HR and risk professional, you need to be familiar with the industry standards, regulations, policies, and best practices related to drug testing. You also need to be aware of the common misconceptions and myths about dilution and cheating. By staying informed and updated, you can ensure that your drug testing program is effective, efficient, and fair. Remember, drug testing is not a stand-alone solution, but a part of a broader safety and health culture that promotes prevention, education, and support.  If you need assistance with your employee screening program or need to order a test or service today, contact our Knowledgeable support team at 844-573-8378 or support@workplacescreening.com or press on link below to order now:  https://workplacescreening.com/order-here/