Magazine article Corrections Forum

Drug Testing Services & Technology

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Drug Testing Services & Technology

Article excerpt

Drug Testing Technology in Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities consists of equipment and tests from many different vendors and laboratories across the country. The relationship between field testing devices and laboratories is a basic one that is interwoven by a need to provide the best drug collection and testing services.

Labs should provide both screening and confirmation services, states Keith Galloway, business manager, Diagnostics, Varian, Inc., Cary, North Carolina.

However, some services could be improved upon, industry insiders point out. "....I'd like to see more labs offer a direct Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (GCMS) confirmation test option as opposed to rescreening samples and then going to GCMS confirmation only if sample is screened positive at their lab. I'd like to see more labs offer cost effective GCMS confirmation of neat oral fluid samples... and the labs emphasize that a screening test is merely a positive or negative result as compared to the established cutoff concentration," Galloway says.

Drug testing laboratories vary in the services they offer and the markets they serve, but a critical responsibility is a constant in the industry: the delivery of accurate, reliable test results, notes Jim Schoonover, vice president & chief marketing officer, MEDTOX Scientific, Inc., St. Paul, Minn. The most reliable way to determine if a drug testing laboratory is a quality provider is for the lab to be SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) certified. In addition to providing quality results, laboratories can assist clients with items such as collection site management, statistical reports, random program administration, and training.

"I believe the relationship between field testing devices and labs varies greatly by both the field test device being used and the contracted lab," explains Galloway. "High quality field tests and reputable labs should see a very good correlation on confirming positive and negative sample sent into them. Field testing manufacturers and labs should have a cooperative relationship."

Urine drug testing will not determine a number of prescription narcotics and opiates, notes Sean Kobayashi, marketing director, Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, Santa Rosa, Calif. The same can be said for oral fluid, saliva, and hair testing. However, a brand new test is out that can test a person's urine for 600 or more drugs. Kobayashi states that certain opiates are synthetic and are not routinely noted by a standard test. These need a different level test. But not all labs provide a good complement of testing.

"Field test development is not 100 percent, but it's close. It is not allowed in court, but if a field test is positive, it can be followed with a lab test for confirmation," says Kobayashi.

Quality drug testing procedures involve two distinct steps to the process, points out Schoonover the initial immunoassay screen and a confirmatory process involving the use of GC/MS. The initial screen is meant to do one thing... separate "true" negatives (where no drug or cross-reactive compounds are found) from all other specimens. Based on statistics at MEDTOX, approximately 90 percent of all specimens tested screen negative. Once a specimen is negative in the initial screen, a "Negative" test result can be generated. …

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