The Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a specially trained and accredited medical practitioner with specialised knowledge in the pharmacology and toxicology of both prescription and illicit drug use. The MRO is conversant with the technical, regulatory and practical aspects of drug and alcohol screening and plays a vital role in the overall process.
The MRO is familiar with other forms of testing, such as hair or saliva sample testing.
The MRO after review will make a determination whether there is a legitimate medical explanation to account for a ‘non negative’ result. Where the MRO is able to determine a legitimate medical explanation, e.g. over-the-counter drugs use, has resulted in a ‘non negative’ test the MRO is able to report the drug test as being negative.
The MRO determination process provides a scientifically valid opinion that is medico-legally sound and enables employers to take appropriate action commensurate with their drug and alcohol policy.
The MRO review can be performed by telephone or in person with the specimen donor. The interview gives the donor the opportunity to provide evidence that may have caused the non negative result.
The MRO will also be knowledgeable about commonly used over-the-counter drugs and how these may cause a sample to test non negative.
Also the MRO will notify employers if medication being taken may have an effect on the safe performance of the employee’s duties. The MRO will be familiar with the employers work environment and is therefore in the best position to make an informed decision regarding safety at work.
In doing so, the MRO assists the employer in providing appropriate duty-of-care for the employee and their colleagues. All organisations undertaking employee drug and alcohol screening programs medico-legally are advised to have their program results overseen by an MRO to enhance the validity and reliability of the overall drug screening process.