Drug Testing Laboratory Certification Types and Definitions

Not just any laboratory can conduct federal workplace drug testing or drug testing confirmation in the US. They must first receive federal accreditation or certification. This is a list of accrediting bodies that can certify both US and international laboratories to perform federal workplace drug testing according to US standards.

Department of Health and Human Services - The DHHS issues certification for Laboratories and Instrumented Initial Testing Facilities — both domestic and foreign — that meet the standards of the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing. The accreditation program is handled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (see below). DHHS accredited laboratories can perform drug testing for any federal agency, including the Department of Transportation (DOT).

College of American Pathologists - The CAP offers accreditation to laboratories performing confirmatory drug testing on urine, oral fluid, and hair for non-medical purposes (i.e., workplace drug testing). CAP accreditation is an internationally recognized program designed to go beyond regulatory compliance.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - SAMHSA is an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and is responsible for certifying drug testing laboratories that meet the standards for conducting urine drug testing authorized under federal regulations.

SAMHSA administers the laboratory certification program through a program called the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP), which includes comprehensive performance testing and laboratory inspection programs. To become certified, an applicant laboratory must successfully test 3 rounds of samples given to the lab by SAMHSA and used to judge the lab’s competency. The lab must also successfully complete a laboratory inspection that occurs at the time the third set of test samples are being tested and undergo an inspection 3 months after achieving certification. To maintain certification, a laboratory must participate in and satisfy the requirements for the ongoing performance testing program and inspections.

The SAMHSA laboratory certification program applies only to urine drug testing, and specifically to testing for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine only.

The SAMHSA NLCP program does not include evaluation or assessment of the laboratory’s capabilities in testing for expanded drug panels that include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, synthetic narcotics and opioids.


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