Clearing Up Misconceptions About Urinalysis

At I & O Medical Centers, we work closely with our clients to build a protocol around each company’s needs. When patients come into our clinics for pre-employments, often they will be required to do a urinalysis as part of the hiring process. The majority of the time, companies will require a baseline physical and a drug screen as part of the pre-employment process.

Our clinics see a high volume of pre-employment and general drug screening, along with DOT physicals. All of these can require a urinalysis, but for different reasons. To clear up some common misconceptions of a urinalysis, below are the  most common reasons for a urinalyses our clinics encounter — and when and why they may be necessary.

Drug Screening

5 panel and 10 panel quick testing (instant drug test) are our clients’ most used drug screen with results in minutes. We also offer the send out, where our staff collects the urine collection to be sent to our lab for analysis. For more information, refer to our quick test vs. lab test drug screening blog post.

DOT Physicals

All of our DOT physicals require a urinalysis (U/A) dip. This is not a drug screen. The urinalysis is used to help determine if the patient is medically fit to receive their medical card.

U/A Dip

When patients come in for a U/A, often times they think they’re doing a drug screen, but that is not always true. A U/A dip is used to measure specifics in the urine other than the presence of drugs.

All of these are important factors to check when receiving or renewing a driver’s medical card.

  • Acidity (pH). The pH level indicates the amount of acid in urine. Abnormal pH levels may indicate a kidney or urinary tract disorder.
  • Concentration. A measure of concentration, or specific gravity, shows how concentrated particles are in your urine. A higher than normal concentration often is a result of not drinking enough fluids.
  • Protein. Low levels of protein in urine are normal. Small increases in protein in urine usually aren’t a cause for concern, but larger amounts may indicate a kidney problem.
  • Sugar. Normally the amount of sugar (glucose) in urine is too low to be detected. Any detection of sugar on this test usually calls for follow-up testing for diabetes.
  • Ketones. As with sugar, any amount of ketones detected in your urine could be a sign of diabetes and requires follow-up testing.
  • Bilirubin. Bilirubin is a product of red blood cell breakdown. Normally, bilirubin is carried in the blood and passes into your liver, where it’s removed and becomes part of bile. Bilirubin in your urine may indicate liver damage or disease.
  • Evidence of infection. If either nitrites or leukocyte esterase — a product of white blood cells — is detected in your urine, it may be a sign of a urinary tract infection.
  • Blood. Blood in your urine requires additional testing — it may be a sign of kidney damage, infection, kidney or bladder stones, kidney or bladder cancer, or blood disorders.

Whether you need to send a potential hire in for a drug screen or to renew a driver’s medical card for their CDL, all of our locations and staff are certified for collection and analysis. For more information about drug screening procedures or DOT requirements, please contact our client services representative at or 757-738-5961.