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Urine Drug Screen Testing in Emergent Situation

May 23 , 2018

Key Message:

  • Effective, Monday, June 4, 2018, Urine Drug Screen testing will no longer be performed on a stat or urgent basis.
  • Routine urine drug testing remains available with an expected turnaround time of approximately 24 hours. Testing will be performed once per day.

Why this is important:

  • Urine Drug Screen testing in an emergent setting or situation is not recommended as it has not been shown to impact management or disposition of patients. It appears to be of limited value in emergency situations for several reasons:
    • It does not confirm or rule out significant poisoning.
    • Almost never provides information that leads to a meaningful change in acute medical management.
    • Countless drugs that contribute to common clinical symptoms are not tested.
    • The testing is not specific:
      • A positive result does not mean that is what is contributing to the patients’ symptoms.
      • False positive results may lead to needless investigations
      • False negative results may occur.
  • This aligns with the best practice position statement from the Toxicology Network which is endorsed by the Addiction and Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network, Emergency Strategic Clinical Network, Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) and AHS Laboratory Leaders.

Action Required:

  • Urine drug screen testing will be performed on a routine basis only.
  • Do not expect results for urine drug screen testing prior to 24 hours from collection.
  • PADIS medical toxicologists are on-call 24/7/365 to consult with physicians in treatment of poisoned patients at 1.800.332.1414.

Inquiries and feedback may be directed to:

  • Penny Colbourne, Clinical Toxicologist, AHS, by email or phone at 780.407.4729
  • Dr. Osman Tutuncuoglu, NLHC General Pathologist, AHS, 780.791.6161 ext: 6151
  • DynaLIFE Medical Labs Clinical Chemists, by email or phone at 780.451.3702 ext: 3572

This bulletin has been reviewed and approved by:

  • Dr. Carolyn O’Hara, Deputy ZCDH, Lab and Pathology, North Zone,
  • AHS Dr. Raymond Lai, Medical Director, DynaLIFE Medical Labs

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