Urine Drug Screening: Practical Guide for Clinicians

Moeller, Karen E.; Lee, Kelly C.; Kissack, Julie C.
January 2008
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Jan2008, Vol. 83 Issue 1, p66
Academic Journal
Drug testing, commonly used in health care, workplace, and criminal settings, has become widespread during the past decade. Urine drug screens have been the most common method for analysis because of ease of sampling. The simplicity of use and access to rapid results have increased demand for and use of immunoassays; however, these assays are not perfect. False-positive results of immunoassays can lead to serious medical or social consequences if results are not confirmed by secondary analysis, such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The Department of Health and Human Services' guidelines for the workplace require testing for the following 5 substances: amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine, opiates, and phencyclidine. This article discusses potential false-positive results and false-negative results that occur with immunoassays of these substances and with alcohol, benzodiazepines, and tricyclic antidepressants. Other pitfalls, such as adulteration, substitution, and dilution of urine samples, are discussed. Pragmatic concepts summarized in this article should minimize the potential risks of misinterpreting urine drug screens.


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