Drug and Alcohol Testing

Chain of Custody Forms in Drug Testing

  • January 29, 2024
  • Jessica McDonald
  • Approx. Read Time: 8 Minutes
  • Updated on January 29, 2024
3 Reasons Chain of Custody Forms Protect You from Lawsuits

If your company uses drug testing to make hiring and firing decisions, here's what you need to know about chain of custody and control forms (CCF) and why they're important in the drug testing process:


    • A chain of custody and control form tracks a specimen from the time it's collected to the time it's analyzed. Certifying scientists also use CCFs to report the results of each drug test and leave clarifying remarks as needed. 
    • The main purpose of a CCF is to ensure the test results are valid and to reduce the risk of contamination or tampering. 
    • Using CCFs makes it easier to defend your company against lawsuits related to wrongful termination. If an employee files a lawsuit, you can use the CCF from their drug test to show that the test was completed in accordance with all applicable guidelines. 
    • CCFs are helpful for pre-employment testing, post-accident investigations, a reasonable suspicion test, and random drug test programs. 
    • To reduce the risk of CCF errors, it's important to work with a reputable screening company. 


The hiring process has several steps, so you shouldn't have to worry about giving your HR team yet another responsibility. Companies such as Driver iQ can handle your drug testing process, freeing up time for other activities. 

A chain of custody and control form increases the validity of a drug test result, ensuring you have accurate information when it's time to make a hiring decision. Here's what you need to know about CCFs. 



Key Takeaways 

Here are the key things you need to know about chain of custody and control forms: 

        • Chain of custody forms increase specimen integrity. 
        • For a DOT drug test, the federal government requires labs to follow a five-step process when collecting specimens and performing drug tests. 
        • Using CCFs may help your company avoid lawsuits. 
        • Drug testing is especially important for safety-sensitive positions. 
        • Driver iQ is one of the most trusted companies to handle your drug testing process in pre-employment screening, thanks to industry accreditation. 


Table of Contents 

  1. What Is a Chain of Custody Form in Drug Testing? 
  2. How Does a Chain of Custody Form Work? 
  3. 3 Reasons Chain of Custody Forms Important to Avoid a Lawsuit
  4. Chain of Custody Form in Drug Testing: Use Cases 
  5. Common Chain of Custody Form Challenges 

What Is a Chain of Custody Form in Drug Testing? 


In drug testing, the chain of custody and control form tracks each person who handles a sample from the time it's collected until it's tested. The main purpose of using this drug test form is to ensure the test results are valid and to reduce the risk of contamination or tampering. 

By using a chain of custody form, drug test professionals can protect themselves against accusations of illegal or unethical behavior.

If someone in the chain makes an error, using a chain of custody form also helps narrow down when the error occurred, making it easier to conduct an investigation. 


Recommended Reading: 6 Common Methods for Employee Drug Testing 


How Does a Chain of Custody Form Work? 


A drug test custody form is relatively simple. Every time someone handles a specimen, they write down their name, the date, and the time. When one person transfers a specimen to another person, they also document the reason for the transfer. 

For example, a drug testing facility may employ several nurses, laboratory technicians, and medical assistants. A nurse who collects a sample may have to hand it off to a technician for processing. 

To maintain the chain of custody, the nurse writes down the name and the date and time of the transfer. They also write down the technician's name and mark the reason for the transfer as something like "processing" or "analysis." 


5 Copies of a CCF 


For DOT testing, the DOT chain of custody form approved by the federal government has five copies: 

    • Copy 1: Laboratory 
    • Copy 2: Medical Review Officer 
    • Copy 3: Collector Copy 
    • Copy 4: Employer Copy 
    • Copy 5: Donor Copy 


Screen smarter, hire safer. Get the right talent to drive your success. Speak to an expert.


CCF Procedure 

To maintain chain of custody, drug testing facilities follow this procedure: 

    • Step 1: The person responsible for collecting the specimen records the reason for the test, checks off boxes to indicate which tests are to be performed, and records the name of the collection site. 

    • Step 2: The collector records the temperature of the specimen on the CCF, along with details about the specimen. For example, the collector must note whether the specimen is single or split.
    • Step 3: The collector labels the specimen bottle, puts a date on the seal, and instructs the donor to fill out some information on Copy 2 (Medical Review Officer Copy). 

    • Step 4: The collector must certify that the specimen was collected, labeled, and sealed according to federal requirements. This documents the chain of custody from the collection site to the processing site. The person who receives the specimen at the processing site (the accessioner) must document its condition, sign the CCF, and note the date of receipt. Finally, the processing site switches to an internal CCF to document each specimen transfer. 

    • Step 5(a): The certifying scientist signs the CCF, records the date, and checks off boxes to indicate the test results. 

    • Step 5(b): If the specimen was split, it has to go to a second certified laboratory. During this step, a second certifying scientist signs the CCF, records the date, and checks off boxes to indicate the test results. 


3 Reasons Chain of Custody Forms Are Important to Avoid a Lawsuit 


When documenting chain of custody, drug test professionals rely on a standardized form for the following reasons. 


1. Contamination and Tamper Prevention 

One benefit of using a CCF is to improve specimen integrity by preventing contamination and tampering.  

Using a CCF reduces ensures there's a clear record of every person who handled a specimen.  

If the collector signs the form and then transfers the sample directly to a technician, for example, there are fewer opportunities for contamination.  

If contamination or tampering occurs, it is also easier to identify where the contamination may have happened. 

If you rely on drug test results to hire employees or investigate work-related accidents, a CCF is required for test validity. When you have valid test results, you can be more confident in your decisions. 


Recommended Reading: Motor Carrier Guide to DOT CDL Drug Testing 


2. Evidence Documentation 


At some point, the results of a drug test may become part of a lawsuit or even a criminal case. For example, if you terminate someone based on their test results, they may sue your company for wrongful termination. 

When the case goes to court, you need to be able to prove that the testing facility handled the specimen appropriately. Otherwise, your former employee's attorney may be able to convince a judge or jury that the laboratory made a mistake. 

A wrongful termination suit could cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even millions. Therefore, it's crucial to follow best practices for drug testing programs, which includes the use of CCFs. 


3. Reputation Management 


Preserving the chain of evidence also helps with reputation management. If a drug testing facility uses CCFs, it shows that the people who work there are dedicated to following government regulations and industry best practices. 

When people know you use reputable testing facilities, your company looks good. You may attract better candidates or have higher levels of job satisfaction than a company that isn't as concerned with accuracy and fairness. 


Chain of Custody Form in Drug Testing: Use Cases 


Use Case #1: Pre-employment Drug Testing 

Many companies conduct pre-employment drug tests, especially if they're involved in hazardous activities. For example, oil refineries test new hires to reduce the risk that someone will come to work impaired and cause an explosion. 

If you use drug tests as part of your hiring process, you need to know that the results are as accurate as possible, so you can make good hiring decisions. CCFs reduce the risk that you'll hire someone who uses illicit substances or drinks on the job, protecting your company's reputation. 


Use Case #2: Post-Accident Investigation 

CCFs are also required for post-accident investigations. For example, if one of your drivers crashes a tractor trailer on the highway, you need to conduct a drug test right away to determine if alcohol or drug use played a role in the accident. 

When the specimen is sent to the laboratory, it must be accompanied by a CCF to conduct the test. If a CCF is not included, the lab will reject the specimen.  

If testing facilities didn't use CCFs, you'd have no way of knowing for certain whether the specimen came from the driver in question. There's also a chance you'll end up keeping an impaired employee on board due to handling mistakes or a false negative result. 


Use Case #3: Employee Termination 

If your company does random testing, there may come a time when you have to terminate someone based on a positive test result. With a CCF on file, you can easily prove the validity of the results, avoiding a precarious legal situation for your company. 

CCFs ensure the drug test results are valid and have not been contaminated or tampered with, giving you more confidence in your termination decisions. They may also protect you if the terminated employee alleges that you terminated them for a discriminatory reason. 


Common Chain of Custody Form Challenges 


A chain of custody form is a tool. Like all tools, how helpful it is sometimes depends on the attentiveness of the people using it. 

Therefore, missing data is a common problem. The collector may forget to record the temperature of the specimen or put the date on the seal, for example.  

To reduce the risk of these errors, it's important to work with an established testing company. 

It's also difficult to keep track of CCFs and ensure your process is documented correctly. If you lose a form, you may be unable to satisfy your screening obligations, putting your company in legal jeopardy. 

Driver iQ is a trusted partner for drug testing in the trucking industry. Accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association, you can trust Driver iQ to screen potential employees thoroughly and maintain appropriate records. 


Recommended Reading: Most Common DOT Clearinghouse Violations 


Increase Test Validity 

Drug testing programs are an essential part of the preemployment screening process. It's also helpful for investigating workplace accidents and ensuring current employees aren't using alcohol or illicit substances on the job. 

To increase the validity of each test result, it's important to use chain of custody forms. CCFs improve your company's reputation, reduce the legal risks of hiring and terminating employees, and give you extra confidence as you make employment decisions. 

Driver iQ can handle your drug testing and other screening needs, leaving you with more time to focus on strategic initiatives. Speak to an expert today to learn more about our comprehensive screening services. 


Screen smarter, hire safer. Get the right talent to drive your success. Speak to an expert.


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