Choosing a test procedure

Once the sample to test has been chosen, how it is tested needs to be defined. In any robust drug and alcohol testing process there are two key stages:

Preliminary screen

There two options for  this stage –  either a point of care (POC) test or laboratory analysis.

Point of care test – A point of care test is performed in front of the donor during the collection process to obtain a result there and then.

Laboratory analysis – The sample can be collected under Chain of Custody conditions to ensure full traceability of the sample throughout the process, and sent into the laboratory for a preliminary screen.

SYNLAB follows rigorous Chain of Custody procedures when undertaking any test, from the collection of the sample right through to the reporting of results.

Results of a preliminary screen – Given the stigma around drug testing, SYNLAB refer results of any preliminary screen are ‘negative’ or ‘non-negative’. If a donor obtains a non-negative result, it is not an admission of guilt. It simply means something within the sample has reacted with the test, however this could be an illegal drug, prescription medication or some over the counter medication, so further analysis is needed to confirm this.

Confirmation analysis

Whether the sample was tested using a point of care test, or in the laboratory, any non-negative result needs confirmation analysis. This is an in-depth analysis of the sample, producing reliable, legally defensible results.

The final results are reported as:

  • Negative
  • Positive
  • Positive and consistent with declared medication

SYNLAB uses confirmation processes based on liquid chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (LC-MS) and all methods are validated as part of SYNLAB’s ISO 17025 accreditation.

Find out more about how to collect a sample.