What Does a 12 Panel Drug Test For?

We are living in a world where there is increasing use of drugs and alcohol across the spectrum and it is an area which many employers are seeking to focus on. In principal the background behind why so many companies will subject their employees to these tests is that they have a legal responsibility to their employees and to their customers. Should something happen which causes injury or a loss of life and it comes about as a result of a member of the team who had not been tested for the presence of drugs, the liability falls on the company’s shoulders.

The most common way in which businesses will test their employees is with an extensive 12 panel drug screen. This is a test of the employee’s urine and it is the most comprehensive test which there is. Any business can use this test for new employees, for employees post incident and for random testing. In the main however we see the 12 panel test used in jobs which carry high risk positions. Let’s take a look then at exactly what this tests for.

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Propoxyphenes
  • Opiates
  • Ecstasy
  • Oxycodone

As you can see, this is quite the extensive list of drugs which this test will check for.


It is perfectly possible that the results from these tests come back as false positives, although labs do all that they can to ensure that the overwhelming majority of results are in fact accurate. If a member of staff does have a positive result they will be able to contend it and fight to prove that it was either a false positive or a true positive which came about because of a perfectly justifiable reason like the ingestion of medicine.

These results will also be able to indicate the level of any drug which the person is carrying, which could indicate the level of use of the narcotic of the person being tested.

The Depth of The Test

The reason why so many employers are focused on getting such in-depth testing is that they have to cover their bases and consider the wide range of drugs which are available to people. Some industries can get away with giving their employees a 5 panel drug screen which will solely test for THC, Opiates, PCP, Cocaine, and Amphetamines. In industries which have higher risk positions however, or higher safety protocols, they cannot take the risk of carrying out a 5 panel screen, which would miss the fact that a new employee may be addicted to barbiturates.

Drug testing is something which is constantly evolving in order to check for more drugs and to increase the precision and the accuracy of the tests. As it stands the 12 panel screen is by far and away the most comprehensive and accurate way to gain a picture of a particular employee’s drug use.

Anything else you would like to know about the processes of drug testing and what it means for employees, please get in touch in the comments section below.