Urine tests are among the most common method of drug analysis in courts, workplaces, sporting events, and clinics. They’re simple to use, don’t require a phlebotomist, and offer rapid results. Despite this, improper administration can lead to false-negative or -positive results, tampering, and other issues. To make sure you’re using urine toxicology effectively, check out tips and insights from the clinical testing experts at TOPLAB®.
How to Administer Urine Toxicology Tests
Like all testing, urine toxicology is only as effective as its administration. With adherence to a few simple procedures, you can ensure that samples are properly collected and eliminate opportunities for tampering. Once you’ve ordered urine toxicology kits from TOPLAB®, be sure to follow these steps:
- Ask all subjects to disclose any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, or supplements they take. Undisclosed medications may deliver false-positive results or other inconsistencies.
- Require subjects to empty their pockets, remove excess clothing, and leave bags outside the testing area. Doing so limits the ability to substitute specimens or use additives.
- Provide instruction on proper use of testing containers.
- Instruct subjects to thoroughly wash their hands and clean their genital area with a provided wipe.
- Evaluate the specimen for visible signs of tampering before sealing it inside a plastic bag.
A same-gender technician may be present to observe and prevent tampering or substitution. However, the reason for observation must be explained to the test subject.
Evaluating the Sample for Tampering
Tampering is one of the most significant barriers to successful urine toxicology, as employees and other test subjects seek to avoid consequences for policy violations. To ensure the most accurate results, try these simple tests to detect dilution, substitution, and other adulteration of samples:
- Shake the specimen and observe. Many additives – including bleach, soap, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice – will form bubbles more readily than pure urine.
- Record the temperature within four minutes of collection. The temperature should read between 32 to 38°C (89.6 to 100.4°F). Results outside this range may suggest substitution.
- Check the pH. While this value may fluctuate throughout the day, it should fall between 4.5 and 8.0. Values outside this range often indicate tampering.
If your subject takes any medications that may affect the sample’s pH or other variables, they should disclose this information at the time of testing.
Urine toxicology can reliably detect a broad range of substances, from alcohol to opioids, and indicate present levels in a person’s body. Detection time isn’t indefinite, however. Some substances remain traceable longer than others and break down as follows:
- Alcohol: 7–12 hours
- Amphetamines: Up to 48 hours
- Barbiturates: Up to 24 hours (short-acting) or 3 weeks (long-acting)
- Benzodiazepines: Up to 3 days (short-acting) or 30 days (long-acting)
- Cocaine: 2–4 days
- Heroin: Up to 48 hours
- Marijuana: Varies with frequency of use
- Methadone: Up to 3 days
- Morphine: 48–72 hours
- PCP: Up to 8 days
Understanding detection times will help you effectively interpret results. Whenever making a decision based on test results, make sure you understand the indicated time span and its implications.
Turn to TOPLAB® for Reliable Urine Toxicology Testing
False-positive or –negative results are serious, but they are easily avoided with proper urine toxicology administration protocols in place. To learn more about urine drug testing for your organization, contact TOPLAB®. Our New Jersey-based laboratory provides urine and saliva drug testing kits to entities throughout the state and across the country, delivering fast, accurate results when needed most.