Recent events in the sporting industry have brought to light the importance of quality assurance in the healthcare field, particularly relating to drug testing. An unnamed laboratory leaked a ‘Non-Negative’ test result to the public, which had the potential to end a prominent Australian sportsman’s career. This incident has prompted us to advise the standards we follow to our clients and candidates, and provide further education on why Drug and Alcohol Screening (DAS) Quality is of the utmost importance to us at Sonic HealthPlus.
At Sonic HealthPlus, we abide by the Australian Standard for drug testing, and adhere to the NATA certifications that we hold. The process that we have in place not only guarantees a legally defensible result for our clients and candidates, but also a peace of mind. The laboratories that we provide our samples to are all NATA accredited, ensuring the accuracy of results and privacy of our candidates. Sonic HealthPlus is NATA accredited under AS/NZS 4308:2008 for specimen collection, detection and quantitation of drugs of abuse in urine. Unlike certification, NATA accreditation focuses on overall compliance with systems and processes, rather than technical competence. It also provides assurance that if required, the results will withstand legal challenge in Australian courts.
What is a ‘Non-Negative’?
A ‘Non-Negative’ is a result that appears when a drug metabolite is detected in an initial test, either in clinic (instant) or at the lab (DAS). Compliance with the Australian Standard (AS/NZS4308:2008) requires that the sample must undergo confirmatory testing by a pathology laboratory in order to decipher the true result of the test. An initial ‘non-negative’ result does not indicate a definite detection of drugs. At Sonic HealthPlus, we ensure our candidates and clients are well-aware of the meaning of a non-negative test result, making sure to not advise any drug classes that have prompted the further testing until we have received the confirmatory results from the laboratory. From there, we follow a strict result release procedure and have Medical Review Officers (MRO) available to discuss any positive results that have been returned if a client would like further information.
At Sonic HealthPlus, we recognise the importance of protecting the privacy and the rights of individuals in relation to their personal information. We respect your rights to privacy and have a legal obligation to abide by the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the Act). The rules that an organisation must follow under the Act are known as the Australian Privacy Principles, and cover areas including the collection, use, disclosure, quality and security of personal information.
In accordance with NATA, there are different legalities when it comes to the release of our Drug and Alcohol Screening results. Candidates that are tested are required to fill in a Chain of Custody form that asks them to list any medication that they have taken within the last 30 days that may affect the results of the testing in order to explain any non-negative or positive results on their screening. This information is confidential between Sonic HealthPlus and the candidate, and is not to be released to the client. If a client requires further information regarding a non-negative or positive test result, it can be discussed further with an MRO who can provide knowledge and understanding on a number of subjects associated with the area of Drug and Alcohol Screening. An MRO is able to interpret test results including alternative medical explanations for laboratory confirmed results and assist the client with a decision regarding the candidate’s safety to work in that particular working environment.