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Do I need an MRO?


“I’m doing a review of our drug-testing process and noticed I have an option to include an MRO. What is an MRO and do I need one?”


A Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a vital safeguard to the workplace drug testing process. While MROs need to meet multiple criteria, in general, they are licensed medical doctors with knowledge and training specific to the drug-testing process, interpretation of results and substance use disorders.

Often the MRO is only thought of as the person who determines if the test is positive or negative, but they do so much more. They serve as the common point of contact between the donor, the collection site, the lab and you, the employer. Because of their role, they offer protections to both the employee and the employer.

Employee Protections. When an employee is found to have a drug(s) in his/her system above the predetermined cutoff level, the MRO privately contacts the employee to gather additional information. This provides the employee with an opportunity to give a legitimate reason why the substance is in his/her system, like if he/she is taking a prescription medication. If the reason can be verified, the MRO will return a negative test result to the employer, therefore protecting the employee’s health information and right to take the medication.

Employer Protections. If an employer gets a positive test result that has not been reviewed by an MRO, he/she could be in an awkward position if the employee claims there is a legitimate medical reason for the result. Without an MRO, the employer is in the driver’s seat to investigate – opening him/her up to receiving medical information that they probably should not have. Additionally, disciplining (or even terminating) an employee who’s taking a prescription drug for a medical condition could expose the employer to a host of issues or potential violations.

While there may be an additional fee to include an MRO in your drug testing process, this offers worthwhile protections for both the employee and the employer. Additionally, you may have an authority (like DOT or the Ohio BWC Drug-Free Safety Program) who requires the use of an MRO in your drug testing process. Talk with your drug testing vendor about implementing the following flow:If you have additional questions about best-practice workplace drug testing, please reach out to a Working Partners® Client Care Specialist.