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Drug tests: What to do about ‘watered down’ results?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. We have a couple of workers who keep getting “negative dilute” results of drug tests. Our policy is to not accept the result and to retest. Can we require the retest to be an observed collection? — Ross, Ohio

A. Negative dilute results are common when employees (perhaps concerned about passing the test) drink an excessive amount of fluids and produce a urine specimen that is so watery that it’s difficult to detect drugs. (Plenty of websites offer this solution as a way to pass a test.) A dilute result does not necessarily mean the employee is cheating; some employees do try to stay well hydrated.

Regarding observed urine collection, some states (including Ohio) permit it—by a same-gender collector, of course. So that is an option. Other steps to consider: Use oral fluids or hair tests, either initially or as the follow-on to a dilute result. Or, treat a second negative dilute result as a “refusal to test” (particularly if the person has notice of the retest and is told not to drink excessive fluids).

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