Oral Fluid Laboratory Testing

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Saliva Smear of oral mucosa with cotton swabs

Introduction of drug screening in the workplace has led to a surge in popularity of instant drug testing kits. Most employers prefer this method because of the speed and convenience. However, when getting the correct result is crucial, oral fluid laboratory testing is a better approach. Oral Fluid laboratory testing involves testing the saliva of a person for the presence of drugs. These tests are carried out under strict laboratory conditions and therefore give a more reliable result. The benefits of using oral fluid lab testing include:

  1. Easy collection of samples

The fluid samples can be taken at nearly any moment or location. This makes the collection process quicker. Collection of urine, which is the alternative, may require the use of certain facilities. Urine samples are also prone to interference since substances can be added to affect the result and in some cases, the sample maybe switched due to the privacy needed when collecting the sample.

  1. Early detection

Drugs may take several hours before registering in the urine while oral fluid samples can be used to detect the presence of drugs almost immediately after use. The oral fluid samples can also be used to detect the presence of drugs in the body even after four days in some situations.

  1. Fast Process and results

The whole process of oral fluid laboratory testing can take just over 24 hours from the time the sample is collected to the time the results are provided. Negative samples can be provided in around 8 hours while the non-negative samples usually take around 24 hours due to the need to confirm the results.

  1. Foolproof results

Instant drug testing kits have accuracies of between 97 and 99 percent. This may be enough for a preliminary screening but for official purposes such as an employment tribunal, it is necessary to get results that are beyond question. Laboratories that conduct drug tests must be audited to the appropriate ISO/IEC standards. This shows that they are qualified to carry out the test. An accredited laboratory is able to certify the results.

  1. Many tests available

More tests can be carried out in a laboratory for more conclusive results including enzyme-linked immunoassay and Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry.

  1. Drug identification

There are many prescription and over the counter medication that are in the same family as certain illegal drugs. The point of care testing kits may be able to detect the presence of opiates in the body but will not be able to distinguish whether the opiate in question is heroin or Codeine which a perfectly legal OTC medicine. This can be done in laboratories which have the equipment needed to carry out these types of analyses.

Although POCT tests provide a quick and convenient method of screening for drugs in the workplace, laboratory tests are the only ones that are acceptable for any official purpose. This is not to say POCT tests aren’t useful but that they should only be used as a first measure.

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