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Look up terms to become more familiar with drug testing language.

Absence Rate
Measures absenteeism, [(# days absent in month) ÷ (Ave. # of employees during mo.) x (# of workdays)] x 100.
The amount of light that does not pass through a solution. The Beers-Lambert Law is a mathematical principle used to demonstrate that the amount of light absorbed by a particular substance in solution is directly proportional to the concentration of that substance.
The passage of drug from the site of administration into the circulation of the body.
The agreement of a measured value with the absolute, defined amount of whatever is to be measured. A drug test is accurate if it agrees with the accepted or gold standard.
Adulterated Specimen
Refers to a sample of bodily fluid (typically urine) that contains a substance that is not expected to be present, or contains a substance expected to be present but is at a concentration so high that it is not consistent with typical results. Adulteration of urine specimens is common, while adulteration of saliva/oral fluid or hair specimens more difficult, if not improbable. Also can be used synonymously with substitution. A sample that is drug free that is substituted for the donor‘s sample at or after the time of collection is also referred to as an adulterated specimen.
A measure of strength of binding between antibody and antigen; expressed in terms of "high" and "low" affinity.
Associated General Contractors of America
A reaction during which an antibody causes particulate antigens in suspension to clump together.
Air Blank
May be used in evidential breath testing devices (EBTs) using gas chromatography technology, and refers to the reading of the device's internal standard. In many EBTs, simply a reading of ambient air containing no alcohol.
The intoxicating agent in beverage alcohol, ethyl alcohol or other low molecular weight alcohols, including methyl or isopropyl alcohol.
Alcohol Concentration
Alcohol in a volume of breath expressed in terms of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath as indicated by a breath test, or as a concentration of nanograms per milliliter for saliva or blood alcohol tests.
Alcohol Confirmation Test
A subsequent test using an EBT, following a screening test with a result of a specified concentration (0.02, .04, etc.) or greater, that provides quantitative data about the alcohol concentration.
Alcohol Screening Device/ASD
Also called on-site alcohol test or on-site alcohol screening test. A breath or saliva device, other than an EBT, performed via established procedures, to determine whether an employee might have a prohibited concentration of alcohol in a breath or saliva specimen.
Alcohol Use
The consuming of any beverage, liquid mixture, or preparation (including any medication), containing alcohol.
Amino Acids
Basic chemical units of proteins.
Protein produced in response to antigens that the body recognizes as "foreign." During an immune response, antibodies react specifically with the antigen that stimulated their production. In the laboratory, antigen-antibody reactions produce immune complexes that are used to detect or measure specific analytes in test samples. Reagent components include antibody and the analyte in the sample serves as the antigen.
Substance the body recognizes as "foreign." Antigens are usually protein in nature and can be found on tissue and blood cells, as well as in body fluids. Antigens induce an immune response by causing the production of antibodies, which react specifically with the antigen that stimulated their production. In the laboratory, antigen-antibody reactions produce immune complexes that are used to detect or measure specific analytes in test samples. The analyte in the sample serves as the antigen. 
Antigenic Determinant
An antigenic site; a single site on an antigen to which a specific antibody binds.  This is also called an epitope.
A feature of an antigen, such as its size, which defines its ability to be recognized as an antibody.
Serum that contains antibodies for a specific antigen.
A procedure where the concentration of a component part of a mixture is determined. There are numerous applications of an assay, such as an antigen-capture assay, bioassay, competitive protein binding assay, four-point assay, immunoassay, microbiological assay, stem cell assay, and many others.
American Society of Safety Engineers


Baseline Testing
Done to establish the level of illicit drug (or alcohol) use at the initial implementation of a comprehensive drug-free workplace (or substance abuse) program. 
To combine with or lock together.
The chemical process of combining molecules by means of reactive groups.
Blind Specimen or Blind Performance Test Specimen
A specimen with a fictitious identifier submitted to a laboratory for quality-control testing purposes so that the laboratory cannot distinguish it from an employee specimen.
Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT)
A person who instructs and assists employees in the alcohol-testing process and operates an evidential breath-testing device.
A chemical compound added to a solution to maintain a specific pH.
A standard or reference material or substance used to standardize or calibrate an instrument or laboratory procedure.
Cancelled Test/Invalid Test
A drug or alcohol test that has a problem identified that cannot be or has not been corrected. A cancelled test is not a positive or a non-negative, or a negative test. An example is an on-site test, in which the control line is not present within the requisite time period.
An immunogenic molecule that is recognized in an antibody response.
The acceleration of a chemical reaction by a substance (a catalyst or enzyme) that is not changed in the process.
Refers to the procedure used for documentation and the handling of a drugs-of-abuse (or alcohol) specimen (typically required for confirmation of non-negative on-site tests or laboratory-based screening tests) from the time the employee donates a specimen to the collector until the specimen is destroyed. Certain screening tests, such as on-site oral fluid-based tests for drugs of abuse or alcohol do not require a chain-of-custody procedure unless a confirmatory test is needed. (Note: Avitar provides chain-of-custody forms for non-federally mandated workplace drug testing. For DOT or federally mandated testing, the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) are used.)
Change in Absorbance
The difference between the initial reading and the final reading of the amount of light absorbed by a sample.
A group, set, or kind sharing common attributes.
CLIA Waived
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments waived tests are defined as simple laboratory examinations and procedures that are cleared by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for home use, and employ methodologies that are simple and accurate as to render the likelihood of erroneous results negligible; or pose no reasonable risk or harm to the patient if the test is performed incorrectly.
A group of identical cells, all of which are produced from a single cell.
Also called a "cofactor,“ a co-enzyme is an additional enzyme required in some enzymatic reactions.
Coefficient of Variation
A percent that represents the percentage of deviations from the mean; abbreviated %CV.
Collection Container
A vial or cup used to contain a sample specimen (oral fluid, urine, blood hair, etc.) for a subsequent test procedure typically associated with laboratory-based tests and/or confirmation drug tests. 
Collection Site
A designated location selected by the employer or perspective employer, where employees or applicants present themselves for the purpose of providing a specimen (typically only used for urine-based, or blood-based tests) for a drug test and/or alcohol test. 
A person who instructs and assists employees at a collection site, who receives and makes an initial inspection of the specimen, provided by those employees, and who initiates and who may initiate chain of custody documentation.
Comparative Analysis
A way of determining the accuracy of an assay method in comparison to known, "true" values.
Confirmatory/Confirmation Drug Test
Typically a laboratory analytical procedure, using GC/MS, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry  equipment and associated procedures, performed on a specimen (oral fluid, urine, blood hair, etc.) to identify and quantify the presence of a specific drug or drug metabolite. 
Confirmed Drug Test
An authorized GC/MS confirmation test result received by and commented upon by an MRO, after the MRO’s review of all relevant available information. 
Consortium/Third-Party Administrator (C/TPA)
A service agent that provides or coordinates the provision of a variety of drug (and/or alcohol) testing services to employers. C/TPAs typically perform administrative tasks concerning the operation of the employer‘s drug (and alcohol) testing programs. This term includes, but is not limited to, groups of employers who join together to administer as a single entity. 
Constant Error
A consistent bias in a comparative analysis where the value returned by the assay being tested is the sum of the true value and a constant.
A sample that contains either a known amount of drug or no drug at all and is used to check the system (instruments, reagents, and operator).
The degree of interdependence between two variables.
Correlation Coefficient
The number that describes the degree of interdependence between two variables with 1.00 as the "ideal.“
Cost per Hire
Costs involved with a new hire. Can be used as a measurement to show any substantial improvements to savings in recruitment/retention costs. Determine what your recruiting function can do to increase savings/reduce costs, etc. (Advertising + Agency Fees + Employee Referrals + Travel cost of applicants and staff + Relocation costs + Recruiter pay and benefits) ÷ Number of Hires.
The reaction of an antibody with an antigen other than the one that induced its formation (the cowpox/smallpox connection), or with more than one antigen.
Point or level at which a urine sample will be considered positive or negative.
Drugs of Abuse Testing
Drugs and Alcohol Testing Industry Association 
Delay Time
Time from the start of the reaction to the initial absorbance reading.
Designated Employer Representative/DER
An employee authorized by the employer to take immediate action(s) to remove employees from safety-sensitive duties, or cause employees to be removed from other duties, and to make required decisions in the testing and evaluation processes. The DER also receives test results and other communications for the employer, consistent with an established drug/alcohol policy. 
Dilute/Diluted specimen
A urine specimen with creatinine and specific gravity values that are lower than expected for human urine.  Note, hair and saliva samples are typically not diluted. 
The Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Technology assay is a type of photometric measurement that involves competition between analyte present in the sample, and analyte in reagent labeled with the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6P-DH). Both analyte sources compete for binding sites on analyte-specific antibody in the reagent. The amount of free enzyme converts oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) to NADH, which forms a color. The intensity of color change is proportional to the concentration of analyte in the sample and is measured photometrically at 340 nm.
Any person who is working for hire for a public or private institution and potentially subject to drug testing and/or alcohol testing. Drug testing may be done on a random basis for all employees, for employees working in safety sensitive positions, in cases of reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty situations, as well as for applicants for employment (pre-employment testing). 
A person or entity employing one or more employees (including an individual who is self-employed) subject to DOT agency regulations requiring compliance with this part. The term includes an employer's officers, representatives, and management personnel. Service agents are not employers for the purposes of this part. 
Endpoint Testing
The measurement of a product of a chemical reaction taken before and after the reaction.
A protein that speeds up or enhances (catalyzes) a chemical reaction.
Binding an enzyme to an antigen (drug).
Antigenic determinant, or sire on an antigen to which antibody binds.
Error Correction Training
Training provided to BATs, collectors, and screening test administrators following an error that resulted in the cancellation of a drug or alcohol test. Error correction training can be provided in person or by a means that provides suitable interactive training, such as a computer-based training program. 
Evidential Breath Testing Device (EBT)
A device approved by NHTSA for the evidential testing of breath at the .02 and .04 alcohol concentrations, placed on NHTSA's Conforming Products List (CPL) for "Evidential Breath Measurement Devices" and identified on the CPL as conforming with the model specifications available from NHTSA's Traffic Safety Program. 
Expel by pressure.
False Positive
Sample that comes up positive, but has no real drug present in the sample.
Final Absorbance Reading
The last absorbance reading.
The ability of some chemicals to emit light.
Fragmentation Spectrum
The pattern created by a particular molecule after it has been shattered by a mass spectrophotometer.
GC/MS Testing
(Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) A method that combines the features of gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample. The GC/MS has been widely heralded as a "gold standard" for forensic substance identification because it is used to perform a specific test. A specific test positively identifies the actual presence of a particular substance in a given sample. 
A class of simple proteins that is present in serum; antibodies are known as immunoglobulins.
Gold Standard
The test or standard against which other tests and measures are evaluated for accuracy.
The Department of Health and Human Services or any designee of the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. 
A small non-antigenic molecule to which a larger carrier protein is added, so that the hapten/protein carrier complex can be recognized by the immune system. Drugs of abuse are haptens.
In a heterogeneous assay, the unbound label must be separated from the test solution because the label activity is not affected by antibody binding. The type of immunoassay requires a separation step.
In a homogeneous assay, the reactants and the by-products can remain in the same solution when the results are determined because the activity of the label is changed when bound by an antibody. The type of immunoassay does not require a separation step.
An animal or plant that harbors another organism.
Transformed cell line grown in vivo (in the live animal) or in vitro (in a test tube or culture) that is a hybrid of 2 parent cell lines and contains genetic material from both.
International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology
International Federation of Clinical Chemistry
Illicit Drugs
Drugs determined to be illegal and/or prescription drugs held without a valid prescription. Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, and opiates, including Ecstasy and Oxycotin/Oxycodone, represent over 95% of the illicit drugs typically encountered. While some drug tests screen for PCP and amphetamines, both of these tests present issues. PCP is used by such a small sample of the population, that the statistical significance of a positive result is questionable.  Amphetamine tests will cross-react with many over-the-counter medications, and thus are likely to create an unacceptably high number of "false positives/non-negatives." 
A condition of being able to resist a particular disease.
To induce an immune response, i.e., to cause the body's immune system to react to something.
A biochemical test that measures the level of a substance in a biological liquid, typically serum or urine, using the reaction of an antibody or antibodies to its antigen. The assay takes advantage of the specific binding of an antibody to its antigen. 
A term used to describe a technique by which chemical reactions are used to detect antigens.
A foreign substance; a substance capable of stimulating an immune response (see antigen).
Ability to cause the body to mount an immune response.
An antibody is known as an immunoglobulin because it is a soluble protein that takes part in the immune response.
Initial Absorbance Reading
The first absorbance reading
Initial Drug Test/Screen
The test used to differentiate a negative specimen from one that requires further testing for drugs or drug metabolites; examples include on-site saliva or urine tests. 
Initial Validity Test
The first test used to determine if a specimen is adulterated, diluted, or substituted. 
Invalid Drug Test/Screen
For laboratory-based tests: a drug test for a specimen (urine, saliva, hair, blood, etc.) that contains an unidentified adulterant or an unidentified interfering substance, has abnormal physical characteristics, or has an endogenous substance at an abnormal concentration that prevents the laboratory from completing or obtaining a valid drug test result.   For on-site tests: tests that fail to produce a control line or otherwise are observed to be inoperable within the specified time limit. 
Kinetic Testing
The measurement of a product of a chemical reaction as the reaction takes place.
A chemical bound to the antigen in an immunoassay that allows the detection and measurement of the antigen (enzyme, radioisotope, or fluorescent molecule, for example).
Laboratory (Certified Laboratory)
Any U.S. laboratory certified by HHS under the National Laboratory Certification Program as meeting the minimum standards of Subpart C of the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs; or, in the case of foreign laboratories, a laboratory approved by similar guidelines/processes. (The HHS Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs are available on the Internet at or from the Division of Workplace Programs, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockwall II Building, Suite 815, Rockville, MD 20857.) 
White blood cells, one component of the blood (with red blood cells, plasma, etc.)
A large molecule, usually a protein or a combination of proteins and fats (lipoproteins) or proteins and sugars (glycoproteins).
Growing out of control, living indefinitely; description of tumor which can invade adjacent tissues and metastasize (travel to distant parts of the body).
The average of values; abbreviated   .
Measure Time
Time from initial reading to final reading.
Facilitate by indirect means, i.e., to affect another reaction.
Medical Review Officer (MRO)
A licensed physician who is responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory/confirmatory testing results generated by an employer's drug testing program and evaluating medical explanations for certain drug test results. 
Mobile Phase
In chromatography, an organic solvent or inert gas that carries the sample through the stationary phase.
Molecular Weight
The combined weight of the atoms that make up a molecule.
A tumor of plasma cells (see Plasmacytoma)
National Association of Drug Court Professionals 
Nanometer (nm)
One billionth of a meter; used to measure the wavelength of light.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a U.S. agency established in 1974 to carry on the work of the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) and National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (now the National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
Not belonging to self, foreign to self, having different genetic characteristics (see self).
National On-Site Testing Association
Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC)
The office in the Office of the Secretary, DOT, that is responsible for coordinating drug and alcohol testing program matters within the Department and providing information concerning the implementation of this part. 
Oral Fluid
Oral fluid consists primarily of secretions from the submaxillary (65%), parotid (23%), and sublingual (4%) glands. Drugs of abuse detection windows/times are similar to those for blood samples (Huestis and Cone). Oral fluid normally contains the parent drug rather than drug metabolites, as most commonly detected in urine. 
A term used to describe particles that are suspended in or mixed with, but not dissolved in a liquid.
The measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.
The engulfing or ingestion of foreign material by a cell.
An instrument used to measure the intensity of light transmitted by a solution.
One component of blood; liquid in which blood cells are suspended.
Tumor (-oma) of plasma cells (plasmacytes), i.e., an abnormal growth of plasma cells; his tumor is also called myeloma. (Plasma cells are related to B lymphocytes.)
Chains of amino acids that make up portions of proteins.
Post-Accident Testing
Can reduce a company’s workers’ compensation expenses in many states. Essentially, a company establishes a published policy that all employees involved in a workplace accident must be tested for drugs of abuse and alcohol. Oftentimes, if an employee is found to be under the influence, he or she will become ineligible for workers compensation and/or medical benefits. 
A reaction during which an antibody causes solid antigen particles in solution to clump together (see agglutination)
A reaction that prevents precipitation from occurring.
The ability to get the same answer (right or wrong) over and over again.
Pre-Employment Testing
Program applied consistently to either all applicants or applicants in positions defined as safety sensitive. 
The substance made by the action of an enzyme on its substrate.
Proportional Error
A consistent bias in a comparative analysis where the value returned by the assay being tested is the product of the true value and a constant.
Complex nitrogen compounds, composed of amino acids, which occur naturally in plants and animals.
Qualification Training
The training required in order for a collector, test administrator, BAT, MRO, SAP, or STT to be qualified to perform their functions per an established drug and alcohol testing program. Qualification training may be provided by any appropriate means (e.g., classroom instruction, Internet application, CD-ROM, video). 
A type of test that determines the presence or absence of a substance in a sample.
A type of test used to determine the concentration or amount of substance in a sample.
Radiant Energy
Energy that travels in waves. In drug testing, light of specific wavelengths is used to detect the presence of specific chemicals.
Random Testing
Conducted by randomly selecting a specified percentage/subset of the employee population, and/or a percentage of the employee population at established intervals (i.e., “frequency“—monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.) for drugs-of-abuse testing. This method encourages employees to remain drug free. 
Read Time
The time between the initial and the final readings of absorbance (measure time)
The substances used to initiate a chemical reaction.
Reasonable Suspicion Testing
Occurs when an employer has reason to believe that an employee is under the influence. Suspicious behaviors such as poor job performance, tardiness, smelling of marijuana or other substances, or reports from witnesses that an employee is using drugs all typically constitute reasonable terms for testing. 
A site present on a specific cell that is able to bind with an antibody.
Recovery Study
A study assaying samples containing known amounts of a substance by testing "spiked" samples.
Chemically challenged, in an EMIT reaction NAD is reduced to NADH.
To control or direct.
Return-to-Duty Testing
Similar to “Scheduled testing;” is most commonly used as a follow-up to a previous positive test. Some employers offer “last-chance” agreements to employees who test positive on the premise that they submit to regular and ongoing testing. 
Retention Time
In chromatography, the time it takes a particular molecule to move through the column or solid phase.
Oral fluid consisting primarily of secretions from the submaxillary (65%), parotid (23%), and sublingual (4%) glands. Drugs of abuse detection windows/times are similar to those for blood samples (Huestis and Cone). Normally contains the parent drug rather than drug metabolites, as most commonly detected in urine. 
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration 
The urine, plasma, or serum to be tested.
A graph on which results represented by points are „scattered;“ in drug testing, the values resulting from the assay being tested are plotted against reference values.
Scheduled Testing
Most commonly used as a follow-up to a previous positive test. Some employers offer “last-chance” agreements to employees who test positive on the premise that they submit to regular and ongoing testing. 
Screening Test Technician (STT)
A person who instructs and assists employees in the alcohol/drug testing process and operates a screen test. 
Belonging to oneself, identical, having the same genetic characteristics (see Nonself).
The minimum amount of substance an assay can detect accurately and reliably (In layman's terms, the lowest amount of substance the test is able to detect).
Liquid that remains after blood cells clot.
Service Agent
Any person or entity, other than an employee of the employer, who provides services to employers and/or employees in connection with drug and alcohol testing requirements. This includes, but is not limited to, collectors, BATs and STTs, laboratories, MROs, substance abuse professionals, and C/TPAs. 
Society for Human Resource Management 
The "pitch" of the best fit line (e.g., drawn on a scattergram) that comes closest to including all the points in the graph.
A term used to describe a substance that is dissolved in a liquid.
A liquid containing dissolved substance.
Society of Forensic Toxicology
The level of affinity of an antibody for its antigen; the greater the specificity, the less cross-reactivity.
Standard Curve
A straight line established by running a series of assays using standard calibrators spiked with known amounts of the compound being studied over a range; results of unknown samples assayed are compared to the standard curve.
Standard Deviation
The average deviation of difference from the mean; abbreviated SD or σ.
Standard Error of the Estimate (SSE)
The number of scatter points around the slope.
The practice of temporarily removing an employee from the performance of safety-sensitive functions based only on a report from a screening or laboratory to the MRO.  (Note: Further action may be determined based upon an appropriate laboratory-based confirmatory test.)
Stationary Phase
In chromatography, the material (silica gel, ion-exchanging resin, etc.) through which the mobile phase migrates.
Steady State
The goal of drug therapy, equilibrium between the amount of drug administered and the amount of drug eliminated by the body.
Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
A person who evaluates employees who have violated a drug and alcohol policy or program and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare. 
Substituted Specimen
A specimen, typically urine, which is not from the original donor, and provided to falsely pass drug abuse tests.
The substance an enzyme acts on.
The state of a substance when its particles are mixed with, or suspended in, but not dissolved in, a liquid.
The elements necessary to carry out a drug test, including the instrument, the chemistry (reagents), and the operator.
Target Cell
Cell to which something is directed.
Target Drug
Drug to which something is directed.
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring: The monitoring of serum drug concentrations in a patient so a physician can administer the correct therapeutic dose; an aid to clinical judgment to: ensure efficacy in acute and chronic therapy, avoid toxicity, and determine or increase compliance.
Therapeutic Range
The range of drug concentrations associated with a high degree of efficacy and low risk of dose-related toxicity in the majority of patients.
The International Association of Forensic Toxicology
Turnover Costs
Factors (e.g., knowledge, skills, and abilities) and costs incurred when an employee leaves your company. Evaluate if HR practices are having a causal relationship in positive changes to improving cost of turnover. Cost to terminate + Cost per hire + Vacancy cost + Learning curve loss. 
Unconfirmed Positive
This occurs when the patient's sample is positive using a screening method, such as EMIT, and negative when run on the confirmatory method, often GCMS or LCMS.
Workers' Compensation Cost
Per employee, analyze and compare (e.g., year 1 to year 2, etc.) on a regular basis. Analyze workers compensation further to determine trends in types of injuries, injuries by department, jobs, etc. HR practices such as drug testing, safety training, disability management, and incentives can reduce costs. Use metric as benchmark to show causal relationship between HR practices and reduced workers compensation accidents/costs. Total WC cost for Year ÷ Average number of employees. 
The introduction of vaccine, made from a weakened version of an organism, into a healthy person to produce immunity to the naturally occurring disease.
A weakened or dead version of an antigen, usually a microorganism, originally named from vaccinia, or the cowpox virus.
Validity Testing
This testing ensures the sample submitted by the patient/employee is not tampered with or modified. This is done by testing the sample's specific gravity and pH, and the levels of oxidants, nitrites, and creatinine.
The introduction of the virus of smallpox into a healthy person to produce immunity to the disease.
Verified Test
A drug test result from an appropriated certified laboratory that has undergone review and final determination by the MRO. 
The distance between the peaks of a wave of radiant energy, such as light, usually measured in nanometers (billionths of a meter).
The point on the y-axis of a graph at which the best-fit line crosses.
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