The term ‘panel drug tests’ refers to any test that tests for multiple substances. These are usually urine or saliva tests you can perform on a single sample or several samples taken over time.
Since this test looks for any drugs or metabolites in someone’s system, it doesn’t matter how long ago that person took those drugs or whether they’re still active in their body because the test will pick them up.
And since there are so many types of drugs that could be tested for, it wouldn’t be practical to put them all in one test, which is why there are multiple panels.
What is a 10-panel drug test?
A 10 panel drug test can detect the recent use of ten commonly abused drugs. The most common application is for drug testing in the workplace. For example, an employer may require drug testing for the following reasons:
Pre-employment drug testing
This screening checks applicants for illegal drug use, and they do this after a conditional offer has been made.
Employers can do this when they suspect drug use in the workplace based on observable signs and symptoms.
You may perform drug testing following a workplace accident to determine if drug use was a contributing cause. Although you can test recent drug use, a positive test cannot prove that drug use caused a specific accident.
They can do this drug testing without prior notice to deter employee drug use.
Employers may choose to conduct drug testing regularly. They can also perform periodic testing as part of an annual physical examination.
Companies require this when an employee is ready to return to work after a long absence. For example, a company could use it after an employee has completed the required substance abuse treatment following a positive drug test result.
Employers use the 10-panel drug test to screen employees for a wide range of substances because it looks more important than many other drug tests.
What does it measure?
The 10-panel drug test first looks for the presence of the following ten substances in the test sample, which is usually urine:
- Amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed, and ecstasy
- Cannabinoids, THC, marijuana, hash
- Coke, crack cocaine
- Opioids Heroin, opium, codeine, and morphine
- Angel dust, phencyclidine PCP
- Barbiturates (phenobarbital, butalbital, and secobarbital)
- Diazepam, alprazolam, and clonazepam are benzodiazepines.
- Methaqualone Quaaludes
- Opiate analgesic methadone
- Propoxyphene Darvocet
If there are traces of these drugs in the initial screening, the second round of more precise testing is to confirm the positive result.
A urine drug test may include additional analyses for these ten substances. The lab, for example, may examine the pH and other characteristics to ensure that the urine sample was not adulterated, diluted, or substituted.
When should you get tested?
Before making a job offer, an employer or potential employer may require you to take a 10-panel drug test if they suspect you’ve used illegal drugs, as part of a random drug testing agenda, or if you’ve been out of work for an extended period.
While employers commonly use 10-panel drug tests, you may want to order one for personal reasons. You can use for a 10-panel display:
- Medical screening
A doctor may order the test as part of your treatment.
- Legal or forensic information
If you’ve been arrested or are part of a surveillance program, you may need to take a drug test.
- Sports/athletics testing
Some athletic competitions require pre-competition drug testing.
- Monitoring pain medication use
A 10-panel drug test can track your treatment and the level of medications in your system.
A medical professional can advise you on whether a 10-panel drug test is the best option.
How can you get it?
Drug testing can occur in various settings, including laboratories, workplaces, hospitals and clinics, and drug treatment facilities.
A urine sample is typically required for a 10-panel drug test, though some tests require other specimens, such as blood.
To ensure that the sample is not contaminated, another person should be present while you administer it.
If your drug test requires a blood sample, you must have it drawn at a medical facility where it can be collected in a test tube or vial.
A doctor’s order is not required to obtain a 10-panel drug test. You can order drug tests online.
How much does it cost?
The cost of a 10-panel drug test varies. But if a doctor requires the test, your insurance may cover some or all of the cost.
Discuss specifics about the cost of the test with your doctor and insurance provider, and they can provide a more accurate estimate of any copays and deductibles.
Can you take it at home?
You can complete a 10-panel drug test at home. Many home drug tests, like at-home pregnancy tests, use a urine dipstick test. The test will detect if there is more than the necessary level for each substance.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, at-home 10-panel drug tests are pretty sensitive to drugs, but some foods, beverages, supplements, and medications can obstruct results.
If an at-home test yields a positive result, the FDA recommends sending a sample to a laboratory for confirmation, as lab testing is the most dependable method.
Steps to do when taking the test
The 10-panel drug test uses a urine sample. You can also do drug screening tests on hair, saliva, blood, umbilical cord, and sweat.
Inform your employer or the lab collecting your urine sample of any OTC or prescription drugs you have recently taken, as these can affect your test results in some cases.
Avoid drinking too much water before a urine test. Instead, follow your employer’s specific instructions on how to prepare and what to bring to the test.
It is critical to read all of the instructions included with the collection kit when preparing for at-home testing.
Test kits usually include instructions, a collection cup, and the test itself. Check the collection kit’s label to ensure that the test can detect the presence of the specific drugs of interest.
When you go to a clinic for a urine test, they will give you a plastic container sealed in tamper-proof packaging. They will usually direct you to a private bathroom, where you will fill this container with urine to a predetermined level.
When you enter the bathroom, you may turn the water supply off, and the toilet bowl may contain blue dye. These are safeguards against tampering with the urine sample.
After you provide a urine sample, staff will typically record the temperature and secure the container in tamper-proof packaging before sending it for analysis. The procedure takes only a few minutes.
At-home testing entails collecting and testing urine per the instructions included with the test kit.
A urine test has no side effects or restrictions on your activity following the test.
If an at-home test yields a positive result, send the sample to a certified laboratory for a final result. The second, more specific laboratory test is necessary because certain foods, supplements, and medications can interfere with at-home testing results.
How to interpret the results
A 10-panel drug test result can be positive, negative, or inconclusive:
A positive test result indicates that the initial screening and confirmatory testing discovered drug residues in your sample that exceeded the allowable limit.
A positive result usually indicates which drug or drugs are in your body.
A negative test result indicates no drug residues in your sample.
Inconclusive results indicate that the testing could not confirm whether or not drug residues were present and may necessitate repeat sample collection and testing.
Employees can request that a second certified lab analyze their samples to confirm the results in many workplace testing programs.
For the presence of specific drugs, at-home testing only provides a preliminary result. Only a certified laboratory can confirm the initial results and provide a final result.
Panel drug tests test for multiple drugs at once, and they’re becoming more common in workplaces across the country.
They are an effective way to detect the presence of several different drugs in one specimen. However, there are also some potential downsides.
For example, many panel drug tests can be challenging to interpret and might require a trained professional to interpret them correctly. Also, because they test for so many substances at once, they tend to produce false positives more frequently than single-substance tests.
So if you’re planning on taking a panel drug test, ensure you understand how they work and what can affect your results.