Test Quick Guide

The 10-panel drug test detects traces of 10 different types of substances that are often associated with drug abuse. This test is normally conducted with a urine sample and may involve secondary testing to confirm any positive results. Testing may be performed as a condition of employment or when you are suspected of abusing prescription or illegal drugs.

About the Test

Purpose of the test

A 10-panel drug test can detect recent use of 10 common drugs of abuse. The most common use is for workplace drug testing. Typically an employer may require drug testing for these reasons:

  • Pre-employment: This testing screens applicants for illegal drug use and is often conducted after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
  • Reasonable suspicion: Employers may conduct testing when drug use is suspected based on observable signs and symptoms in the workplace.
  • Post-accident: Drug testing may be performed after a workplace accident to determine if drug use may have been a contributing cause. Although you can test for recent drug use, a positive test alone cannot prove that drug use caused a specific accident.
  • Random: This type of drug testing is typically conducted without prior notice to act as a deterrent for employee drug use.
  • Periodic: Employers may elect to perform drug testing on a set schedule. Periodic testing may be administered as part of an annual physical exam.
  • Return-to-duty: This is performed when an employee is ready to return to the workplace after an extended absence. For example, it may be used after an employee has completed the required treatment for substance use following a positive result on a previous drug test.

Because the 10-panel drug test looks for more substances than many other drug tests, it is most frequently used by employers who want to screen employees for a wide range of substances.

What does the test measure?

The 10-panel drug test first analyzes the test sample, usually urine, for the residue of the following 10 substances:

If traces of these drugs are present in the initial screen, a second round of more precise testing is done to confirm the positive result.

In a urine drug test, additional analyses may be added to the tests for these 10 substances. For example, the lab may check the pH and other characteristics that help show that the urine sample was not adulterated, diluted, or substituted.

When should I get a 10-panel drug test?

An employer or potential employer may require you to get a 10-panel drug test before making a job offer, if they suspect you may have used illegal drugs, as part of a random or periodic drug testing program, or if you’ve been out of work due to an extended absence.

While 10-panel drug tests are most commonly used by employers, you may want to order a test for personal reasons. A 10-panel screen may be used for:

  • Medical screening: Your doctor may order a 10-panel drug test as part of your care.
  • Legal or forensic information: You may be required to take a drug test if you’ve been arrested or part of a surveillance program.
  • Sports/athletics testing: Some athletic competitions require drug testing prior to competing.
  • Monitoring pain medication use: A 10-panel drug test can be used to monitor your treatment and the level of any medications in your system.

A medical professional can help you determine when a 10-panel drug test is the right testing option for you.

Finding a 10-Panel Drug Test

How can I get a 10-panel drug test?

Drug testing can be conducted in a variety of settings, including labs, workplaces, hospitals and clinics, or drug treatment centers. You will most often need to give a urine sample for a 10-panel drug test, although some tests use other specimens such as blood. Another person may need to be present while you give the sample to ensure it isn’t contaminated.

If your drug test uses a blood sample, you’ll need to have it taken at a medical facility where they can collect the sample in a test tube or vial.

You don’t need a doctor’s order to get a 10-panel drug test. Drug tests are available to order online.

Can I take the test at home?

You can take a 10-panel drug test at home. Many drug tests done at home use a urine dipstick test much like at-home pregnancy tests. The test card will detect if there is more than the cut-off level for each given substance.

At-home 10-panel drug tests are fairly sensitive to the presence of drugs but certain foods, beverages, supplements, and medications can interfere with results, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you get a positive result on an at-home test, the FDA recommends sending a sample to a laboratory for confirmation as lab testing is the most reliable method.

How much does the test cost?

How much a 10-panel drug test costs will vary depending on where the test is performed and how it is ordered.

If a doctor orders the test, your insurance may cover some or all of the cost of the test. Discuss specific details relating to the cost of the test with your health care and insurance provider, who can give a more accurate assessment of any copays and deductibles.

Taking a 10-Panel Drug Test

The 10-panel drug test is most often performed on a urine sample. Drug screening tests can also be done on hair, saliva, blood, umbilical cord, and sweat.

Before the test

Before the test, inform your employer or the lab taking your urine sample of any over-the-counter or prescription drugs that you have recently taken because these can in some cases affect your test results.

For a urine test, avoid drinking too much water beforehand. Follow any specific instructions from your employer on how to prepare and what to bring when you take the test.

When preparing for at-home testing, it’s important to read all instructions provided with the collection kit. Test kits typically include instructions, a collection cup, and the test itself (which may be test strips, a test card, or a test cassette). Also, check the label of the collection kit to ensure that the test is designed to identify the presence of the specific drugs you’re interested in.

During the test

For a urine test at a clinic, you should receive a plastic container that is sealed in tamper-proof packaging. You will normally be directed to a private bathroom where you fill this container with urine up to a specifically marked level.

When you go into the bathroom, the water supply may be turned off, and there may be blue dye in the toilet bowl. These are measures intended to prevent tampering with the urine sample.

After you have provided a urine sample, staff typically record the temperature of the sample and secure the container in tamper-proof packaging so that it can be sent for analysis. The process lasts less than a few minutes.

At-home testing involves collecting and testing urine according to instructions provided with the test kit.

After the Test

A urine test does not have any side effects and does not involve any post-test restrictions on your activity.

If a positive result is found on an at-home test, it’s helpful to send the sample to a certified laboratory for a final result. The second, more specific laboratory test is important because some foods, supplements, and medicines can affect the results of at-home testing.

10-Panel Drug Test Results

Receiving test results

Laboratory test results normally come back within several business days after you have provided a urine sample. Some labs may have on-site testing with more immediate results. Your employer or the school that ordered the test will get the results to you.

At-home testing results typically require the results to be visually read within a certain number of minutes after starting the test.

Interpreting test results

Results from a 10-panel drug test are usually reported as positive, negative, or inconclusive:

  • A positive test result means that the initial screen and the confirmatory testing found drug residues in your sample that exceeded the allowed limit. A positive result typically specifies which drug or drugs were detected.
  • A negative test result shows that no drug residues were found in your sample.
  • An inconclusive result indicates that the testing was not able to confirm whether drug residues were or were not present and may require repeat sample collection and testing.

In many workplace testing programs, employees can request that their samples be analyzed by a second certified lab to confirm the results.

At-home testing offers only a preliminary result for the presence of specific drugs. Only a certified laboratory certified can confirm the preliminary test and offer a final result.

Questions you may want to ask your doctor about your test result:

  • What do the screening results mean?
  • How confident are you in the accuracy of my test result?
  • Could my diet or any current medications interfere with the results?
  • Should I complete another test to confirm this result?
  • What next steps should I take?



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