Medical News

The Medical Review Officer – The Role The MRO Plays

The ‘MRO’ defined: The Medical Review Officer, or MRO, is a specially trained, licensed medical practitioner with specialised knowledge in the medical use of prescription drugs and the pharmacology and toxicology of illicit drugs. The MRO is familiar with the technical, regulatory and practical aspects of drug and alcohol testing and plays a vital role in the overall drug testing process.

The MRO review will include interpretation of urine test results reported by the testing lab to ensure a scientifically valid result. The MRO will also be familiar with other forms of testing, such as hair or saliva sample testing. Most importantly, the MRO will make a determination whether a legitimate medical explanation could account for any ‘laboratory-positive’ results reported by the testing laboratory. This is usually performed by way of telephone interview with the specimen donor and by giving the donor an opportunity – through their doctor or pharmacist – to provide evidence of legally prescribed drug use that may have caused the lab-positive. The MRO will also be knowledgeable about commonly used over-the-counter drugs and how these may cause a sample to test lab-positive. In addition, the MRO may also evaluate and interpret tests results reported by the lab as ‘adulterated’ or ‘dilute’ and would be skilled to evaluate and advise where the donor is unable to provide a sample – known as ‘shy bladder’.

Where the MRO is able to determine a legitimate medical explanation, or where over-the-counter drugs have resulted in a ‘lab-positive’ test and there is no suspicion of misuse, the MRO will be able to report the drug test as negative.

Occasionally an MRO may become aware of medication being taken which may have an effect on the safe performance of the employee’s duties. In cases where safety may be adversely affected, the MRO will bring the matter to the attention of the employer.

In doing so, the MRO helps protect both the rights of the employee being tested and the employer requiring the testing

While not all organisations undertaking employee drug and alcohol testing programs engage an MRO, all would benefit from having a trained medical doctor providing advice to enhance the validity and reliability of the overall drug testing process

Our Medical Staff

The principal medical adviser at MRO services Australia is Dr Marcus Hirschfield. Dr Hirschfield has extensive experience in the field of occupational medicine. In addition to his medical qualifications and an MBA, he has postgraduate medical qualifications in occupational and environmental medicine, aviation medicine and is certified as a medical review officer with MROCC, the Medical Review Officer Certification Council. Dr Hirschfield is licensed as a medical practitioner in all Australian States and Territories. Clients of MRO Services Australia will have direct contact with Dr Hirschfield, or if temporarily unavailable, with one of his qualified and experienced medical staff.

MRO service benefits

At MRO Services Australia we’ll provide the following benefits:

•   Ensuring the integrity and probity of your drug testing process

•   Validating the sample chain of custody and contributing to providing for a robust, legally sustainable testing process. Where possible, errors in the chain-of-custody are corrected, preventing the need to re-test

•   Reviewing and reporting all abnormal tests. These could be tests that are ‘non-negative’, adulterated or suspicious for any reason

•   Ensuring your drug and alcohol program provides fair treatment to all employees by allowing for medical interviews with the sample donor to determine if a legitimate reason exists for the abnormal results

•   Protecting the employee’s confidentiality when appropriate, especially where legitimate medical reasons exist when substances are detected

•   In safety-sensitive positions, providing feedback to the employer on employee fitness to work, if information becomes available to the MRO during the testing process or donor interview

•   Ensure your Drug and Alcohol Management Plan or “DAMP” is compliant with CASA requirements for MRO review

Health Staff Australia

Author Health Staff Australia

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