What is a 5-panel drug test?

All drug tests are presented in panels representing a substance being tested. A 5-panel drug test, for example, looks for five drugs, a six-panel drug test looks for six drugs, a ten-panel drug screen looks for ten drugs, and so on.

What is a 5-panel drug test?

A basic five panel drug urine test is the most often utilized drug test by government organizations and commercial companies. THC, Opiates, PCP, Cocaine, and Amphetamines are some of the most frequently misused compounds tested for in a 5-panel drug test. Mobile Health provides five-panel drug testing at over 6,500 sites countrywide.

A 5-panel drug screen is utilized for the majority of occupational drug testing. The Federal government’s Mandatory Guidelines for Workplace Drug Testing use this approach.

5 panel drug test

The Department of Transportation (DOT) also employs 5-panel urine drug testing. Before employment, the DOT requires truck drivers to submit to a drug test. The DOT also demands this test at least once a year, after most accidents and if there is a reasonable suspicion that a motorist is misusing drugs. THC, Opiates, PCP, Cocaine, and Amphetamines are tested for in the DOT 5 panel drug test.

How far back does a 5 panel drug test?

Urine, hair, blood, and saliva are the most used specimens for drug testing. Urine samples are often utilized for controlled drug tests like those administered by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). However, urine testing has a narrower detection window than other methods, such as the more expensive hair drug test. In urine, illicit drugs may be detected for five to ten days, but hair drug tests can identify drug or alcohol usage for up to 90 days.

Blood testing is incredibly accurate, but it is also expensive and intrusive. However, it has a shorter detection time (minutes to hours). Finally, a saliva test (also known as an oral fluid test) is less intrusive than urine testing and has a shorter detection period (7-21 hours). If an employer wishes to avoid complications when an employee does not produce enough pee, a saliva drug test might be an effective alternative to urine testing.

How does a 5 panel drug test work?

A urine specimen tests five common illegal substances, including marijuana, opiates, PCP, cocaine, and amphetamines. A SAMHSA-certified laboratory analyzes the drug test samples, and the findings are evaluated by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). Of course, an employer may screen for additional substances by upgrading to a 7-, 9-, or even 10-panel drug test.

Furthermore, the federal government employs a 5-panel drug test protocol known as a DOT test (US Department of Transportation), which involves screening for amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP. A rigorous set of regulations known as 49 CFR Part 40 governs the controlled drug test collecting procedure and program criteria. Consequently, when companies choose a non-DOT five panel drug test for their programs, it is commonly referred to as a DOT look-alike panel.

How are 5-Panel Drug Tests Performed?

5-Panel Drug Tests may be performed using urine, hair follicles, or saliva samples (oral fluid). Urinalysis is the most prevalent and is recommended by the Canadian Model. These tests may be lab-based or point-of-care (POCT), also known as express testing. Lab-based testing entails collecting samples, which are then submitted to a laboratory for analysis.

Although lab-based testing is more reliable, POCT tests may provide answers rapidly, frequently within minutes, which is critical in specific employment scenarios. However, sending samples to a lab and receiving findings may take 2-5 business days. POCT tests are also more convenient for employees and less costly for businesses to conduct.

A laboratory test must confirm a positive POCT result to remove the chance of a false positive and to assure the employer’s legal defensibility for any measures taken. Having a Medical Review Officer (MRO) on staff might also help to safeguard the firm.

Please remember that the Oral Fluid Express Panel 5 must be performed in combination with the Oral Fluid Lab Panel 8. This is due to raised cut-off values for POCT testing for THC, which increases the possibility of THC usage being undetected.

When Should You Use a 5-Panel Drug Test?

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates a 5-panel drug test, but the Canadian Model proposes an 8-panel test. The 5-Panel test may be used in a variety of settings. However, pre-employment testing is usually not permitted in a unionized job in Canada and is only allowed in restricted situations in a non-unionized company. It’s also worth noting that if a lab confirmation is needed for 5-panel, oral-fluid express testing, an oral fluid 8-panel drug screen will be provided.

Other sorts of testing may be permissible in certain circumstances:

  • Random drug testing as part of a comprehensive program to combat drug and alcohol misuse in a hazardous job with a demonstrable drug and alcohol issue
  • Post-incident or post-accident testing if there are grounds to assume drugs had a role.
  • Return-to-work testing if employees have obtained drug addiction treatment and testing has been made a condition of returning to work.
  • If the employer feels the worker is not fit for duty, they may be subjected to reasonable cause testing.


A 5-panel drug test is a simple screening exam to detect any of five widely misused restricted drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and PCP are examples. A patient supplies a urine sample (or, in certain situations, a hair or oral fluid sample for an alternative form of the five-panel test), which is then examined for drug metabolites by a medical review officer, who evaluates whether the findings are negative or positive. This fundamental testing technique is a practical measure used by employers before and during employment by corporate policies and regulatory requirements designed to build a culture of health and safety.


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