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West J Med. 1990 May;152(5):514-24.

The role of physicians as medical review officers in workplace drug testing programs. In pursuit of the last nanogram.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, School of Medicine, San Francisco.


In discussing the role of physicians in workplace drug testing programs, I focus on the recent Department of Transportation regulations that require drug testing in such regulated industries as interstate trucking, air transportation, mass transit, and the railroads. These regulations require that applicable drug testing programs employ physicians as medical review officers to evaluate positive tests that have been screened and confirmed by different techniques to determine if there is a legal medical explanation for the result. The drug testing program tests for the presence of amphetamine, cocaine, tetrahydrocannabinol, opiates, and phencyclidine. If an employee testing positive has an acceptable medical explanation, the result is to be reported as negative. Little practical advice exists for medical review officers, and they must be aware of key elements of the regulations and potential trouble spots.

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