What Is a Rapid Drug Test?

Ron Kilgarlin

October 6, 2022

Rapid drug tests are famous for their speed and convenience. What Is a Rapid Drug Test, their use should be limited to preliminary testing rather than a definitive diagnosis. This is because of the greater likelihood of false results compared to more robust laboratory testing methods, such as enzyme immunoassay. In addition, rapid tests tend to produce more false results than other forms of drug testing.

Comparing lab-based testing to rapid tests

When comparing lab-based drug testing to rapid tests, it’s important to remember that these two methods use different protocols. In addition, rapid tests have limitations, and their results may not be accurate enough to determine the exact amount of substance abuse. Because of this, employers should be aware of state and federal regulations when deciding which drug screening method to use. Some employers choose to use lab-based tests to ensure the validity of their results, but there are also some benefits to using rapid tests.

One of the most significant advantages of rapid tests is their speed. While lab-based tests take several hours to return results, rapid tests can provide results within minutes. In addition, they’re generally cheaper, but they can’t be used in court without confirmation from the lab. In addition, rapid tests may not cover all substances. Because of this, employers must be sure to hire trained personnel who can adequately handle the difficulties and interpret the results.

Rapid tests can be performed on-site at a clinic or home. They’re typically less expensive and can provide results in as little as an hour. While they’re not as accurate as lab-based tests, they’re still reliable.


The cost of a rapid drug test depends on the type of test and the substances to be tested. For example, a single substance test can cost less than $100, while an eight or ten-panel test can cost more than $200. The cost of screening can be expensive, though, so consider the number of employees you have before determining the expenses.

Rapid testing is not foolproof, and the results are not final. No lab test is 100 percent accurate. Rapid tests also do not determine the quantity or duration of the substance. Additionally, they are not accepted by federal agencies. Rapid tests also require the results to be reported by the clinic, which slows down turnaround times for drug screens.

In addition to cost, another factor to consider is time and convenience. The NMS Health service can save employers time and money by providing results in less than three minutes. The company has thousands of locations nationwide, and its protocol-driven software guides collectors through the process. The screen system even features gender-neutral cups. Results are automatically reported in three minutes, and any samples that show a positive impact are sent to an independent medical review officer.


Rapid drug tests are popular because of their speed and convenience. However, they are unreliable for definitive diagnoses, as there is a high risk of false positives. The best way to ensure that a result is accurate is to use a laboratory test. This testing method is more reliable because it follows a protocol, which includes an initial screen and cut-offs for different substances.

Many factors affect the accuracy of rapid drug tests. One of the most important is the cut-off level, which determines whether or not a drug is present. The cut-off value is set for each drug class to minimize the possibility of accidental contamination. This level can be as low as one ng/mL for cannabis and as high as 50 ng/mL for routine drug screening.

Rapid tests often use saliva or urine samples. The results are available in as little as four hours. If a specimen tests positive, it is sent for a confirmatory test, which takes two to three days. After the test is completed, an applicant is usually notified of the test. In some cases, this notification may require the applicant to report to a laboratory within a specified time frame. This is usually one day or less.

Admissibility in court

A rapid drug test is often used for criminal proceedings. The results can be used in court to establish guilt or innocence. However, it is not foolproof. Besides, a rapid test requires confirmation by a lab, which may take 24 to 72 hours. However, it is cheaper than a lab-based test. Employers should be aware of legal requirements before administering a rapid drug test. They must also have trained personnel to handle the test results.