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What Is an MRO? - Understanding the Drug Testing Process

What is an MRO?

Medical review officers (MROs) are professionals in charge of reviewing drug test results. They are licensed physicians with years of experience working with substance abuse.

The role of an MRO in a drug testing program includes reviewing the final results and more. Overall, the medical review officer job determines the drug test’s efficiency and accuracy while ensuring both parties are protected – the employees and the employer. This article explains what an MRO is and the impact their expertise has on drug test results.

Qualifications of a Medical Review Officer

Many people wonder “What is an MRO?” Additionally, “What are the qualifications to become one?” According to the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, a medical review officer has to be a licensed physician with either a Doctor of Osteopathy or Doctor of Medicine degree.

However, having a specified degree isn't the only requirement. An MRO must have expert knowledge in the substance abuse field, including pharmacology and harmful drugs toxicology. They also must undergo professional training in several crucial fields, including: 

  • All mandatory guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs 
  • Proper specimen collection procedures
  • Reviewing
  • Reporting

For a physician to qualify as an MRO, they must pass an examination conducted by a certified body or an HHS-approved agency.

In circumstances where candidates underperform on the examination, they may retake the test. As a matter of fact, the test may be retaken one time for free within 12 months of the initial attempt.

Restrictions for a Medical Review Officer

An MRO can work as a federal agency employee, but also as an independent contractor. They are key for maintaining contact between all parties, including the agency representative, the test facility, the donor, and the collector.

There are several restrictions for medical review officers and they include the following:

  • Cannot be an employee of the facility or laboratory where the drug test result reviews take place 
  • Cannot be a lab agent or have any financial interest in the facility or organization
  • Cannot have an agreement with any instrumented initial test facility (IITF) or a laboratory that may represent a conflict of interest
  • Cannot receive any financial gain by recommending a specific testing facility to anyone

Responsibilities of a Medical Review Officer

When it comes to MRO drug testing, the person in charge has many responsibilities. Some include:

  • Reviewing all specimens reported positive, substituted, rejected, adulterated, or in any way invalid for efficient testing.  After the review, they report the results.
  • Carefully reviewing negatively reported samples and sending a verified result.
  • Paying attention to result inconsistencies of blind samples.
  • Providing a medical assessment to the people who provide the specimens when asked by the collector.
  • Determining test result accuracy.
  • Deciding whether further testing is needed.
  • Keeping all records confidential.

An MRO’s duties far exceed their day-to-day responsibilities. They must carry them out in a professional and respectful manner. Confidentiality is expected as well.

What Is An MRO Review?

An MRO review consists of several procedures. Combined, they guarantee impartial MRO drug test results. Those procedures include:

  • Checking if the collector used the proper drug test panels for a specific test.
  • Reviewing the handling of the sample collection.
  • In negative drug test cases, reviewing the Chain of Custody Form to determine any errors that may play a vital role in test cancellation.
  • In positive drug test cases, speaking to the person who took the test and asking them to explain the presence of drugs in their system.
  • Reporting the final drug test results to the party that requested the test.

An MRO review ensures that every aspect of a drug test has been properly executed.

The Medical Review Process of a Positive Drug Test Result

In cases of positive drug testing results, there is a process an MRO must follow before announcing to the party that initiated the test.

After determining the positive drug test results, the MRO has to attempt to reach the donor three times within 24 hours. If unsuccessful, they must notify the donor's employer of their need to contact the donor. Then, the employer's designated representative (DER) has three attempts to reach the donor within another 24 hours.

The Interview With the Donor

During a confidential interview, the MRO and donor discuss the test results. During this interview, the MRO explains that if the donor chooses not to discuss the result, the officer would have to report positive results to the employer who initiated the test.

Countrywide Testing

Drug testing involves much more than just collecting samples. At Countrywide testing, we are available to answer any questions regarding lab drug testing including the science behind the process and our track record of success in the field. We offer a variety of services including marijuana tests and 12 panel drug tests. Contact us today to learn more.