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AverHealth Drug Tests False 30% of the Time

If you are convicted or granted diversion for a DUI in Johnson County, Kansas, there is a good chance that you will get put on what is frequently referred to as the “color code” for random urine tests. It was called the color code because it used to be that you would have to call a phone number every day and listen for the color of the day on the recording. If your color was orange and you called the number and it said that the day’s color was orange, you would have to go submit a urine sample for testing. Now, the system is a little more sophisticated. Generally, the testing in Johnson County is done through a for-profit business called AverHealth. You are given a PIN number and have to log into the AverHealth website or call the phone number and you are told whether you have to go take a urine test or not. Generally, you have to do this every day of the year you are on probation or diversion, including weekends and holidays. 365 days in a row. If you fail to log in with your PIN, that is a violation. If you fail to show up for UA when you are supposed to that is a violation. If your sample is diluted because you overhydrated, that is a violation. If your sample is positive for creatinine, a common supplement used by people who work out but is also considered a masking agent in urine testing, that is a violation. The tests at AverHealth are done in a room surrounded by mirrors. You have to drop your pants to the floor and urinate in front of one of their workers. It is a humiliating experience.

AverHealth has contracted with court systems all of the country to provide urine testing for people on diversion and probation. They are making a lot of money. Turns out, however, that they may not be so good at actually conducting accurate urine tests. A recent investigation by Vice News revealed that a company insider testified under oath in court that their tests were wrong 30% of the time. That is 1 false positive test out of every 3 tests administered. That is an astounding failure rate. What makes it even more disturbing is that major decisions about people’s lives are being made as a result of these tests. Every day, people are put in jail, have their children taken away, or otherwise lose their freedom as a result of positive drug tests. As a result of the complaints about false positive tests and serious concerns raised about AverHealth, many courts have stopped using the company. But, they are still going strong in Johnson County and if you are on supervision for a DUI in the Kansas City area, you may very well be required to go to their facility and drop a urine test for them. They do a “10 Panel plus ETG” test, which means they test for the 10 common drugs of abuse (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, etc) , plus they test for EtG – ethyl glucorinide, which is a microscopic enzyme created by the liver when it metabolizes alcohol. According to AverHealth, if your urine has EtG in it, that means that you drank alcohol. Allegedly, the test can tell if someone drank alcohol for up to 3 days after the drinking occurred. This test is controversial for use as a tool to incarcerate people since there can be false positives and other sources of EtG. I recently discussed EtG testing in this previous blog post.

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