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How to Ensure Proper Treatment Through Urine Drug Testing

Point of care drug testing can isn't always fully accurate. For truly accurate results, EIA and LC-MS/MS are the ideal urine testing methods.


When it comes to time-sensitive patient care, today’s doctors can’t afford to rely on guesswork and hearsay from patients. Treatment and medication normally considered safe can quickly become dangerous when combined with the wrong substances. This is especially true if the patient has any history of abuse or illegal drug use.

To avoid such issues without sacrificing speed, many doctors are turning to point-of-care testing to get the answers they need. The only problem? POCT rarely tells doctors the full story.


What Point of Care Drug Testing Can’t Tell You

In a pinch, POCT can reveal important general information about a patient’s toxicology. It can help you avoid potentially dangerous treatments and medications. What it doesn’t tell you, however, can be just as dangerous. POCT can detect some common, basic drug categories—opiates, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and benzodiazepines among them. While this general information can be useful, it is rarely sufficient. In exchange for a speedy test, you compromise your ability to detect specific, problematic drugs such as:
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  • 6-MAM
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  • Carisoprodol
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  • Cotinine
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  • EDDP (Methadone Metabolite
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  • Ethyl Glucuronide
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  • Fentanyl
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  • Ketamine
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  • Meperidine
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  • Synthetic Cannabinoids K2-1
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  • Synthetic Cannabinoids K2-2
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  • Tapentadol
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  • Tramadol
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  • Zolpidem
Limited capabilities aside, POCT or near-patient testing isn’t always a very reliable option. Meant to be used as an initial screening only, POCT can tend to yield false-positive or false-negative results, defeating the purpose of testing altogether. When it comes to implied accuracy, it may be more appropriate to refer to POCT as Point of Care Screening. POCT can only “screen” for the presence of drugs and drug metabolites. It takes a shotgun approach, hitting as many positives as it can in order to give a general “yes” or “no” answer regarding the presence of drugs. While POCT might be effective for determining initial positives, it’s lack of specificity can be problematic when trying to determine an appropriate treatment. The Advantages of Qualitative/Quantitative Testing In order to truly know what your patient has in their system, it is necessary to use more comprehensive urinalysis methods such as LC-MS/MS and EIA. Though not as fast as POCT, these methods deliver more reliable, comprehensive results.
  • EIA: Short for Enzyme Immunoassay, EIA is very effective not just for identifying the presence of drugs, but also invaluable information on their concentration levels in the body.
  • LC-MS/MS: Shorthand for Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry, LC-MS/MS is a urinalysis method that analyzes and detects specific drug compounds in a patient’s system. LC-MS/MS works by taking a small amount of the urine sample, and injecting it through a column which separates each individual analyte from each other, using their varying structures to ID the presence of specific drugs.

Used in conjunction with one another, EIA and LC-MS/MS can give physicians the clearest possible picture of their patient’s toxicology, allowing for the safest possible treatments to be administered with ease.


When Results Count, Always Choose Quality Testing

When it comes to safety and accuracy, there is no substitute for high-quality drug testing. What you sacrifice in speed is more than compensated for by reliable results that make effective treatment possible. Fortunately for your practice, Gulfstream Diagnostics doesn’t believe in doing things halfway. Choosing Gulfstream Diagnostics means choosing accuracy, safety, and convenience for your practice and its patients. As recipients of COLA’s Laboratory Excellence Award, we pride ourselves on providing accurate, state-of-the-art resources to each and every one of our clients. Ready to experience the difference? Let’s get in touch.