Split Specimens and Drug Tests

If during your drug test you see the collector putting the specimen into two separate vials, your test is undergoing a “split specimen”. One vial is tested right away. If it is determined to be positive, the results are forwarded to the MRO. When the MRO says that you are positive you can deny it and ask to have the second vial sent to an independent laboratory. Be warned that the second vial is filled with the same urine as the first vial. Also, the second vial will not be subject to the immunoassay screening. It will instead be sent to the GC/MS and tested for the same drug that was found to be positive in the first vial. If the second lab fails to confirm the findings of the first lab, then your specimen will be determined to be negative.
Typically there is no provision in place for the employer to pay for this second test, but if the second lab fails to confirm most employers will reimburse you for the second lab test. Getting the first lab’s result overturned is extremely rare. The split specimen process is in place to protect the donor against a mix-up in the lab or in the event that the laboratory equipment is faulty.
If you do decide to challenge the findings in court, the things your lawyer should ask about the lab are:

  • Is the lab certified?
  • Do they participate in appropriate proficiency testing?
  • Have they ever failed a proficiency test?
  • What are the qualifications of the technical staff performing the test?
  • What technologies do they use to screen and confirm?

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