Seems like it might be. But it’s not.

A workplace drug test is a toxicology test, whereas a medical test is a clinical test. In fact, these tests are conducted in different facilities on different equipment. Labs like Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp conduct clinical tests and toxicology tests in totally different cities. 

Chain of custody

An employment drug test requires a chain of custody. A chain of custody is exactly what it sounds like. It prevents specimens from being mixed up, protecting both employer and employee. At the time of collection, the specimen is sealed and initialed by the donor. Bar codes and numbers connect the specimen and its associated paperwork. It is tracked from time of collection until final testing is completed. If the chain is broken, the test is canceled.

Drug test results must hold up in a court of law, and the chain of custody is critical.

Precautions are, of course, taken not to mix up medical specimens too, but there is no legal chain of custody.

Different kinds of doctors.

Medical tests must be ordered by a doctor. Drug tests do not have that requirement. But drug test results (especially when positive) should be reviewed by a Medical Review Officer, or MRO. An MRO is a specially trained physician who will, among other things, interview donors and validate prescriptions. An MRO-reviewed test result is considered final.

Do You Really Need a Medical Review Officer (MRO)?

So, even though a biological specimen (urine, saliva or hair) is collected and is sent to a lab, a drug test is not a medical test.

And courts support this.

Federal Appeals Court Holds Test For Illegal Drugs Is Not An Impermissible Medical Examination, Even If Test May Reveal Lawful Drug Use

Employers are responsible for providing a safe place to work. To that end, employee drug testing is a critically important tool. 

But drug testing must be conducted properly, with a proper chain of custody and medical review of all positive results. InOut Labs conducts drug tests all across the U.S. With a chain of custody. And with an MRO.