DOT adds new opioid testing for 2018

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28 Dec 2017

Beginning January 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing program will add testing for four semi-synthetic opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone).   The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), along with the DOT, requires that persons subject to the commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements and their employers follow alcohol and drug testing rules. These rules include procedures for testing, frequency of tests, and substances tested for.

In addition to the existing DOT drug testing panel (that includes marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and opiates), individuals will also be tested for four semi-synthetic opioids. Some common names for these semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, Exalgo®.

The DOT answers drug testing questions

In this employee notice published by the DOT, the Department sets out to answer some common questions about the drug testing program.

  • Do I need to tell anyone about my prescribed medications?

Your employer may have a policy that requires you to report your prescribed medications to them.  So check with your employer.  If your job function has DOT-regulated medical standards (truck/bus driver, airline pilot, mariner), the DOT agency regulation may require you to report your prescribed medications to those who approved your medical qualifications.

  • What should I tell my prescribing physician?

If you are taking any prescription medications, consider this to be a reminder to have a conversation with your prescribing physician to discuss your safety-sensitive work.  Be proactive in ensuring that your prescribing physician knows what type of transportation-related safety-sensitive work you currently perform.  This is important information for your prescribing physician to consider when deciding whether and what medication to prescribe for you.  It is important for you to know whether your medications could impact your ability to safely perform your transportation-related work.

  • Will the Medical Review Officer report my prescribed medication use/medical information to a third party?

Historically, the DOT’s regulation required the MRO to report your medication use/medical information to a third party (e.g. your employer, health care provider responsible for your medical qualifications, etc.), if the MRO determines in his/her reasonable medical judgement that you may be medically unqualified according to DOT Agency regulations, or if your continued performance is likely to pose a significant safety risk.  The MRO may report this information even if the MRO verifies your drug test result as ‘negative’.

Carriers and drivers have access to helpful resources

The FMCSA has produced resources for drivers  as well as resources for employers regarding the drug and alcohol testing program. Specialized compliance companies like Lee Trans are helping fleets large and small stay compliant with DOT regulations including drug and alcohol testing. Drivers and carriers can contact them to help manage their compliance and avoid costly audits.