Drug Testing Glossary

Adulterated Specimen - This term refers to a sample of body fluid or tissue that has been tampered with in some way. Generally, this means that the sample either contains a lot of a particular ingredient, which makes it clear that the substance was consumed to throw off the drug test or that something was added directly to the sample to try to hide drug use.

Accession Number - A number used to identify a sample as it passes through the drug testing process in order to keep track of where it goes through the system

Affidavit - A form that must be signed by the collector to correct a problem on the original Chain of Custody form. For example, if the date was missing or incorrect.

Alcohol Confirmation Test - A follow-up alcohol test using an Evidential Breath Testing device. The confirmation test comes after a screening test with a result of 0.02 or greater and provides quantitative data about alcohol concentration.

Alcohol Screening Device - A breath or saliva device, other than an Evidential Breath Testing device, that is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alcohol Screening Test - An analytic procedure to determine whether a person has a prohibited concentration of alcohol in a breath, saliva or urine specimen.

Alcohol Testing Site - A place selected by the employer where employees present themselves for the purpose of providing breath, saliva or urine samples for an alcohol test.

Breath Alcohol Technician - A person who instructs and assists employees in the alcohol testing process and operates an evidential breath testing device.

Blind Specimen - A specimen that is taken and sent to a lab with the intention of acting as a quality control for that lab. This type of specimen is shipped with a fake identifier to hide its purpose.

Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) - The alcohol contained in a volume of breath expressed in terms of grams of alcohol per liters of breath.

Breath Alcohol Technician - A person who instructs and assists test subjects in the alcohol testing process and operates an evidential breath testing device.

Cancelled Test - A drug or alcohol test that has an identified problem that cannot be or has not been corrected, which requires it to be canceled. A canceled test is neither a positive nor a negative test.

Chain of Custody - The record kept of how the specimen was handled and by who over the course of the drug testing process, from the time it leaves the person being tested to the point at which it is destroyed after drug testing is complete.

CLIA - Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, which are federal regulatory standards that apply to all clinical laboratory testing performed on humans in the United States except clinical trials and basic research. They were passed by Congress in 1988. The CLIA Program sets standards and issues certificates for clinical laboratory testing, defined by the CLIA as any facility which performs laboratory testing on specimens derived from humans for the purpose of providing information (1) for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease or impairment, and (2) for the assessment of health. An objective of the CLIA is to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of test results regardless of where the test was performed.

Clinic - A medical facility that can be used as a collection site.

CLIA Waived - Products, including many health and drug testing products, that pass certain criteria that have been proven to be easy to use and highly accurate. Some lab tests performed with standardized equipment are very easy to perform and when performed properly, have very little chance of error. When it can be proven using CLIA waived criteria that inaccuracy is almost impossible for these tests, the tests can be CLIA waived. CLIA waived drug test products and equipment are cleared through the Federal Drug Administration and are available for purchase and use by consumers.

Collection Container - A container into which a person urinates or some other bodily fluid is collected to provide a specimen for a drug test.

Collection Site - A place selected by the tester where people to be tested present themselves for the purpose of providing a specimen for a drug test.

Collector - A person who instructs and assists test subjects at a collection site, who receives and makes an initial inspection of the specimen provided by those subjects, and who initiates and completes the Chain of Custody Form.

Confirmation Test - A test that is used to confirm the presence of a specific drug or metabolite after the initial immunoassay test has been done. The confirmation testing method is usually gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).

Confirmation Validity Test - A second test performed on a urine specimen to further support a validity test result.

Confirmed Drug Test - A confirmation test result received by a Medical Review Officer from a laboratory.

Consortium/Third Party Administrator - A service agent that provides or coordinates the provision of a variety of drug and alcohol testing services to employers. These consortiums or third-party administrators usually perform administrative tasks concerning the operation of the employers' drug and alcohol testing programs. This term includes, but is not limited to, groups of employers who join together to administer the DOT drug and alcohol testing programs of its members as a single entity.

Continuing Education - Training for medical review officers and substance abuse professionals who are currently working in the field, designed to keep them up-to-date on changes and developments in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program.

Control Line - On an instant drug test, this is the line that should appear in the control section of the test regardless of whether it is a positive or negative result. If no control line appears the test is invalid.

Creatinine - A product created by the breakdown of creatine phosphate in muscle, usually produced at a constant rate by the body. Testers can determine if a sample has been diluted by testing the creatinine levels of the sample.

Cutoff Level - In drug testing, this is the minimum amount of a drug metabolite that must be present in a sample to determine if it is a negative or positive test. Cutoff levels are established to avoid false positive test results due to incidental exposure to a substance. For example, a person who has breathed in second-hand marijuana smoke may have traces of marijuana show up in their urine or saliva sample but this will be below the minimum amount needed for a positive test, meaning the test will be negative.

Designated Employer Representative - A Designated Employer Representative is an employee who has been given the role of pulling employees from safety-sensitive jobs and making decisions in cases where drug testing is involved. They also receive the drug test results.

Diluted Specimen - A diluted specimen is a specimen that has been diluted to the point where the drug traces or metabolites are also diluted, making them appear less concentrated. This is either the result of the donor drinking large amounts of a liquid before the urine collection or the donor adding water to the specimen after collection. Dilution can be detected by measuring the creatinine level and specific gravity of a sample.

DOT - The Department of Transportation is a large grouping of several organizations such as the National Coast Guard, The Federal Aviation Administration, and Federal Transit Administration among many others associated with transport in the United States. The regulations set out by this group are considered a valid, standardized manner of conducting drug testing in the U.S.A.

DOT Test - A urine drug test performed for Department of Transportation safety-sensitive employees or a test performed for any organization that follows DOT regulations.

Drug Metabolites - A chemical that is released during the ingesting process when the body metabolizes a drug. These chemicals are what drug screens check for. Particular substances produce particular metabolites.

Ecstasy - Also known as MDMA, it is a popular recreational drug that is a refined and processed form of amphetamine with a chemical structure closely resembling methamphetamine.

Error Correction Training - Training provided to Breath Alcohol Technicians, collectors, and screening test technicians following an error that results in the cancellation of a drug or alcohol test. Error correction training must be provided in person or by a means that provides real-time observation and interaction between the instructor and trainee.

EtG - Ethyl Glucuronide. In terms of alcohol testing, it is EtG is a direct, non-volatile, water-soluble, metabolite of ethanol. It’s a highly sensitive and specific biomarker and can be detected anywhere from four to five days after alcohol consumption as opposed to eight to 12 hours when testing for ethanol.

ETS - Ethyl sulfate. It is tested in conjunction with EtG for confirmation purposes. ETS is a direct, bio-marker of alcohol ingestion that is not susceptible to degradation by bacteria hydrolysis.

Evidential Breath Testing Device - A device approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the evidential testing of breath at the 0.02 and 0.04 alcohol concentrations, placed on NHTSA's Conforming Products List (CPL) for “Evidential Breath Measurement Devices” and identified on the CPL as conforming with the model specifications available from NHTSA's Traffic Safety Program.

GC/MS - Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A testing method that combines the features of gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample. In drug testing terms, this is often used as the confirmation test on a sample that is found, by an immunoassay test, to contain traces of drugs.

HHS - The Department of Health and Human Services or anyone designated by the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services to represent that department.

Immunoassay - A biochemical test that measures the presence or concentration of a macromolecule in a solution through the use of an antibody or immunoglobulin. In regards to drug testing, it is the first test done to detect whether there is any traces of a drug in a person’s system. More stringent follow-up testing is done if an immunoassay test gives a positive result. All instant drug tests are immunoassay tests.

Initial Drug Screen - An immunoassay test (EIA) that is the first test performed during a drug screening process to determine if there are any drug traces or metabolites present. If traces of drugs or metabolites are present, a confirmation test is performed.

Initial Validity Test - The first test used to determine if a specimen is adulterated, diluted, or substituted.

Instant test kit - An immunoassay test that can be purchased commercially by anyone for the purpose of detecting the presence of drugs in a person’s system. These tests can be performed anywhere that a sample can be obtained and the results are available instantly. The results of these tests will not hold up in a legal situation.

Invalid Drug Test - This is a drug test that has been tampered with and therefore invalidated for drug testing.

Laboratory - Any U.S. laboratory certified by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the National Laboratory Certification Program that meets the minimum standards of Subpart C of the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs; or, in the case of foreign laboratories, a laboratory approved for participation by the Department of Transportation under this part.

LC/MS - Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry is a testing method that combines the features of liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample. In drug testing terms, this is used as the confirmation test on a sample that is found, by an immunoassay test, to contain traces of drugs.

LC/MS/MS - Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry and Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry is a testing method that combines the features of liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample. In drug testing terms, this is used as the confirmation test on a sample that is found, by an immunoassay test, to contain traces of drugs.

MRO - Medical Review Officer, a licensed physician in charge of receiving and then reviewing lab results made from an organizations’ drug testing program. The MRO is also in charge of evaluating those results for possible medical causes.

Negative Result - A result that indicates that the specimen did not exceed certain levels of drug metabolites.

NIDA - The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a United States federal-government research institute whose mission is to "lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction."

Non-negative specimen - A urine specimen that is reported as adulterated, substituted, positive for drugs, or invalid.

Normal Result - A negative laboratory test.

Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance - The office in the Office of the Secretary in the Department of Transportation that is responsible for coordinating drug and alcohol testing program matters within the Department and providing information concerning the implementation of these matters.

Opiate (OPI) - A class of drugs derived from the opium poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. This includes both illicit drugs (heroin) and prescription drugs (morphine).

PCP - Phencyclidine, often referred to as "angel dust," was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous surgical anesthetic. As an illicit drug, it can be smoked, snorted or injected. Once quite popular, it is now relatively uncommon.

Point of Contact (POC) Test - A Point of Contact test, also known as an instant drug test, is a device that is capable of performing an immunoassay test on a sample and provides instant results within a few seconds or minutes after the sample is collected. These devices perform the tests at the time of sample collection and there is no need to send the samples to a laboratory for further testing if the results are negative. If the results are positive, the sample should be sent to a laboratory for confirmation testing.

Positive Test Result - A drug test that has been confirmed as positive by GC/MS by the laboratory. An immunoassay test can also yield a positive test result for a specimen but the specimen should be sent to a laboratory for confirmation testing. Only when a sample has been found positive using GC/MS can it truly be referred to as a positive test result.

Preliminary/Presumptive Positive Drug Test Result – The first step in a drug screening process where an instant urine or saliva drug test comes back with a positive result. On rare occasions, certain foods or over the counter medications may cause a false positive drug test result so all preliminary positive drug tests should be run through a laboratory analysis for confirmation testing.

Primary Specimen - In drug testing, the specimen container that is opened and tested by a first laboratory to determine whether the specimen donor has a drug or drug metabolite in his or her system and also for the purpose of validity testing.

Qualification Training - The training required in order for a collector, Breath Alcohol Technician, Medical Review Officer, SAP, or Screening Test Technician to be qualified to perform their functions in the Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing program. Qualification training may be provided by any appropriate means (e.g., classroom instruction, internet instruction, video).

Refresher Training - The training required periodically for qualified collectors, Breath Alcohol Technicians, and Screening Test Technicians to review basic requirements and provide instruction concerning changes in technology (e.g., new testing methods that may be authorized) and amendments, interpretations, guidance, and issues concerning testing and Department of Transportation agency drug and alcohol testing regulations. Refresher training can be provided by any appropriate means (e.g., classroom instruction, internet instruction, video).

Safety-Sensitive Position - A position in which the normal or periodic job responsibilities of the employee entail, at some point and to some degree, a higher level of concern for the safety, health, and/or welfare of the employee in that position, his or her co-workers, those who come onto or in contact with Company property, and the public at large [and for whom the illicit use of drugs and/or misuse of alcohol by the employee in that position could create a greater danger to the safety, health, and/or well-being of those individuals].

SAMHSA - Stands for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA is the governing federal agency that regulates all approved drug testing laboratories and all standards in drug testing.

Screening Test Technician - A person who instructs and assists test subjects in the alcohol testing process and operates an ASD.

Security-Sensitive Position - A position in which the normal or periodic job responsibilities of the employee entail, at some point and to some degree, access to cash, securities, bonds, or other negotiable instruments, and/or precious and/or valuable commodities; involve the use of, or access to, firearms and/or other weapons and/or armaments; involve protection of property, valuables, and/or individuals; relate to matters of national security, military, or law enforcement; and/or entail access to assets and/or information vital to, sensitive for, and/or with high proprietary interest to a company [and for whom the illicit use of drugs and/or misuse of alcohol by the employee in that position could compromise the interests of the company and/or any individual or entity affiliated to, or in contact with, the company].

Service Agent - Any person or entity not affiliated with an employer, who provides services to employers and/or employees in connection with Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing requirements. This includes, but is not limited to, collectors, Breath Alcohol Technicians and Screening Test Technicians, laboratories, Medical Review Officers, substance abuse professionals, and Consortiums or Third Party Administrators. To act as service agents, persons and organizations must meet specific qualifications.

Shipping Container - A container that is used for transporting and protecting specimen bottles and associated documents from the collection site to the laboratory.

Specific Gravity - The ratio of the density of a substance (usually urine when talking about drug testing) to the density (mass of the same unit volume) of a reference substance (usually water). The normal range of specific gravity for urine compared to water is 1.010 - 1.025

Specimen Container - The container that, after being sealed and labeled according to applicable procedures, is used to hold the specimen during transportation to the laboratory.

Split Specimen - A split specimen refers to a urine specimen that is divided to ensure the integrity of the sample’s results. One portion of the sample is stored for later evaluation and the other is tested for drug use. If that specimen is returned as a positive test then the other portion can be tested if the person being tested or the organization that asked for the drug test have requested it in order to ensure the positive result is accurate.

Stand Down - A Stand Down refers to a situation wherein an employee is asked to remove themselves from duties that involve using machinery or materials that are deemed to be unsafe for those under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances that leave the user impaired. Generally this happens when a positive drug test has come back or the person is undergoing evaluation before returning to the regular use of such materials and machinery.

Substance Abuse Professional - A person who evaluates employees who have violated a Department of Transportation drug and alcohol regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Substituted Specimen - A specimen that did not come from the person who was supposed to provide the specimen. Usually pertaining to urine tests, the specimen might be another person’s urine or the urine of an animal or some other substance altogether.

Temperature Strip - A strip that is used to determine whether or not the urine is in the 90-100 Degree Fahrenheit (32-38 Degree Celsius) range. This helps to ensure that tampering has not occurred.

THC - The principal psychoactive element of the cannabis (marijuana) plant.

WHO - World Health Organization. A specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is concerned with international public health.

Verified Laboratory Test - A laboratory test result that has been verified by the Medical Review Officer (MRO).