Raleigh Woman Claims Faulty Drug Test Cost Her Job :: WRAL.com

As a Certified Practical Nurse for over 20 years, Pam McCord was living a dream.

“I love what I do. It’s my passion. I love taking care of others,” she told WRAL Investigates.

That dream turned into a nightmare on April 2 when she tried to help a patient at the Cypress of Raleigh nursing home.

“When I got up on him, I think I pulled a muscle,” McCord said.

McCord went to get checked out at FastMed Urgent Care on Millbrook Avenue as a worker’s compensation precaution. The process included more than just examining McCord’s back.

“She told me we had to do a drug test and I said, ‘It’s okay,'” McCord said.

A few days later, the phone call shocked McCord.

“They told me my drug test was positive for cocaine,” McCord said. “I was just blown away at the time. I said it wasn’t my urine test.”

McCord thinks there must have been a mistake.

“In all my life, I’ve never done drugs,” McCord said. “I said, ‘Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong.’

“I said, ‘please help me in this situation.'”

But WRAL Investigates found that the power lies with employers, not employees when it comes to drug test results. Citing politics, Cypress immediately fired McCord, taking his health insurance and benefits.

“At that point, I was just lost,” she said.

McCord interviewed FastMed and Virginia-based lab Alere, where the test was performed. They stick to the result.

A week later, she had a hair follicle test, which is generally considered more accurate than a urine test and detects drug use over a longer period. It came back negative. His former employer, Cypress, was not moved even though there are hiring signs on the building.

“It may have been a completely different urine sample,” says attorney Desmond Andrade.

McCord hired Andrade to help investigate the testing process and the handling of the test specimen. To further bolster his case, Andrade sent McCord for another hair follicle a month later. The extra time allowed more hair to grow, which would increase the likelihood of detecting cocaine if McCord used the drug. Again, the test came back negative.

McCord says the only drug in his system was an appetite pill. Although there are many common drugs that could lead to false positive drug test results, there are not many substances known to mimic cocaine.

Per state law and lab policy, the sample was retested to confirm the positive result. The result was the same. Andrade always questions the whole process.

“But, there’s still been no action, no second test on their own, no checks and balances to make sure they actually got an accurate result, and that, again, is extremely disappointing,” Andrade said.

As McCord considers legal action, she is mostly concerned about restoring her reputation.

“My character was ruined, my reputation,” McCord said.

McCord also serves as a warning to others who might question a drug test.

“I don’t want to see anyone go through…the pain that I had to go through,” McCord said. “You fight for what’s right, and that’s why I’m trying to get my story out there.”


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