A specimen used in drug testing may be stored, transported, and reviewed several times between the moment a donor provides it and the end of the final test. If you want to ensure that no one adulterates, substitutes, or otherwise tampers with a specimen, you will need to preserve a paper trail of the process. This trail, which follows the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of the specimen, is called the “chain of custody” form, or CCF. And just as mail became e-mail, and books became e-books, CCFs have become eCCFs (electronic chain of custody forms). These convenient, digital forms accelerate and improve the efficiency of drug testing procedures.
Electronic Chain of Custody Forms
What Is a CCF?
As we briefly mentioned above, a CCF is a paper trail of the drug testing process. Without such a document in place, it becomes far more difficult to maintain the integrity of a specimen prior to testing. The CCF acts as a form of assurance, and if it shows any sign of tampering, it will be invalidated. The transcription process begins when the specimen is collected and ends at its final destination. It will be updated when the testing laboratory receives it, and the person processing the sample will provide the time, date, and a signature. In the end, the CCF will contain a variety of information detailing the specimen’s journey from donor to Medical Review Officer (MRO).
Throughout this process, a part or all of the CCF may be copied and retained by the people and agencies involved: the specimen collector, the agency that requires drug testing, the donor, the laboratory, the MRO, etc. For example, when the results are finalized, the CCF is copied and sent to the MRO, who records the final result on the completed CCF.
What Is an eCCF?
Electronic chain of custody forms modernize standard CCFs by moving them onto a computer. In nearly all other ways, they are exactly like the chain of custody forms used by most people. eCCFs can also be used for drug test ordering and specimen collection processing. The form should be clear, concise, complete, quick, and accurate.
Whether you use a drug test regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or an unregulated drug test, you can use eCCFs. As of April 13, 2015, eCCFs have been approved for use in regulated drug testing by the DOT. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Laboratory Certification Program must approve the laboratory prior to use. With a regulated test, you must use urinalysis. With a non-DOT drug test, you can test donors’ urine, oral fluid, or hair as the specimen.
Benefits of an eCCF:
An eCCF can improve the drug testing process in several ways. It can expedite the system, improve the efficiency of collections, and allow the employer to order a drug test online. Employers can also use electronic chain of custody forms to e-mail authorization forms and instructions to donors, eliminating the need to print, mail, store, and track down paper CCFs. Plus, throughout the process, employers can check the status of a particular drug testing specimen (whether it is in the lab, pending review by an MRO, etc.).
When compared to standard chain of custody forms completed by hand, electronic documents provide several unique benefits:
- Fewer data-entry and legibility issues
- Reduced collection site flaws
- Faster drug test collections
- Streamlined delivery of eCCF copies to employers and Medical Review Officers
- Accurate data from the eCCF seamlessly replaces outdated account and MRO demographics
- Less paperwork to manage
- Improved overall efficiency
- More eco-friendly, as less paper is needed
Plus, since nothing has changed in the collection process, you won’t have to go through an extensive education to begin using eCCFs. You will collect and document the exact same information; the primary difference is that you will document and distribute the information in an electronic format.
Looking to the Future
Although many collection sites are still not using DOT eCCFs, more and more sites are coming on board each year. In addition, some collection sites only offer non-DOT eCCFs. When you’re ready to start using eCCFs, you can either create a new drug testing account using eCCFs or transition your current account to an electronic format.
Finally, if you’re interested in starting a drug testing program, give Tomo Drug Testing a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. Based in Springfield (MO), St. Louis (MO), Kansas City (MO), Indianapolis (IN), and Evansville (IN), we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo Drug Testing to be available anytime, anywhere. We would be happy to help!