Oral Fluid Testing: Facts vs. Myths

There is no shortage of misinformation surrounding the science and legal implications of workplace drug testing. Oral fluid drug testing, being one of the newer testing technologies, is no exception to this fact. The team at SIX Safety Systems has pioneered the implementation of this highly accurate and efficient method of drug testing since 2006 and presents the facts about oral fluid drug testing in the workplace.

MYTH: Oral fluid is not accurate.

FACT: Oral fluid may have greater relevance to understanding the effects of drug abuse as oral fluid provides a “blood-equivalent” result, testing for the parent drug itself and not just the metabolite. This makes it possible to detect “recent use” more accurately than urine testing as the presence of drugs in oral fluid is usually directly related to the amount of drug in the bloodstream at the time of sample collection.

MYTH: Oral fluid testing is just as susceptible to cheating as urine.

FACT: Oral fluid testing is very difficult to cheat. First, sample collection is witnessed. Second, a donor cannot deliberately compromise or mask a sample provided as oral fluid is reproduced on average in 3-5 minutes; thus if the drug is present in the bloodstream, it will be present in oral fluid.

MYTH: The legal liability is high for a company to conduct in-house testing.

FACT: The extent of legal liability associated to a company’s Substance Abuse Policy will be determined by the objectives and application of that policy: How well is it documented? How well is it communicated? How consistently is the policy applied? In-house testing can make logistical challenges easier and be significantly more cost-effective for some companies. As oral fluid is non-invasive, presents no gender issues, and witnessed samples can be collected anywhere, in-house testing is a legally diligent option for some.

MYTH: Oral fluid POCT screens can be confirmed with urine lab testing.

FACT: This will increase false-positive and false negative rates. Oral fluid primarily detects parent drug compounds and urine drug metabolite, each with different detection windows and cut-off levels. Oral fluid must be confirmed with oral fluid and the reverse is also true, urine with urine.


Back to Drug & Alcohol Solutions




SIX Safety Systems delivers fit-for-duty solutions that mitigate the risks associated with drugs, alcohol, and fatigue in the workplace. 



Newsletter Sign Up