Hair Drug testing is set to become very much quicker. Analytical Toxicology is a discipline that is often thought of as dealing with the identification of toxins or drugs after a death or other adverse event. However Cansford Laboratories is applying principles derived from manufacturing processing and new techniques coupled with state of the art analytical instrumentation for extremely rapid laboratory based analyses of drugs in Hair and oral fluid. This is of particular benefit to family care cases involving children at risk. Not only does the increased sensitivity of the analyses give greater confidence of correctly identifying a person or parent with a drug issue but the speed of the analysis and associated processing mean that a report can be back with the solicitor within 3 days of the sample arriving at the laboratory. The time saving itself can save court time and money and when coupled with a highly efficient system developed using lean manufacturing principles more commonly applied to production lines in Car and electronic device assembly.
Drug abuse is often a hidden and denied problem that is evidenced by problem behaviours rather than overt drug taking. In the case of families where the there is the particular risk of child neglect when parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol it is vital to detect the possibility as soon as possible. The process of detection needs to be accurate and respectful of the individual. When the testing is done as part of the routine work up of a case issues are much better addressed. Thus, for example, a test done and reported before a clinical or investigative interview enables any issue relating to the use of drugs to be detected prior to the interview and means that the parties can address the fact of drug use rather than waste time discovering whether drugs are part of the picture. People who take drugs can be very convincing when they deny drug use. Conversely if drug use is not the issue then this is identified early and false allegations of drug use by a marriage partner cleared out of the way.
A hair test is simply applied and respectful of the individual being tested. There is no need to prepare toilets so that a urine sample can be collected without danger of contamination or substitution. A very small sample of hair is required because of the extreme sensitivity of the newly developed process and the speed of the preparation means that the sample can be being analysed within 24 hours of receipt. The very precise automated handling of the samples means that it is possible to analyse 80 to 100 samples on a single instrument within the same day. There are marked cost savings with this approach with no loss of accuracy or security of the sample. An extensive screen of 9 commonly abused drugs with the additional alcohol markers Ethyl Glucuronide and Fatty acid ethyl esters can all be delivered within 3 days of sample arrival at the Lab. The speed and cost savings from the use of a standardised test as routine results in a more relevant clinical interview. Financial savings accrue as an associated benefit.
Another issue, in addition to time taken and costs accrued, is quality. It is not completely separate from the former issues and quality can be defined as not only producing the correct data, but in addition producing that data in a time-efficient manner and at the appropriate price. The United Kingdom Accreditation Service is the body recognised by the UK government to assess organisations against internationally agreed standards. The usual standard that Laboratories are assessed against has been given the identity of 17025. As stated on their website, accreditation by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the key to ensuring that consumers, suppliers, purchasers and specifiers can have confidence in the quality of goods and in the provision of services throughout the supply chain. UKAS accreditation means the laboratory can demonstrate to its customer that it has been successful at meeting the requirements of international accreditation standards. Increasingly laboratories are taking up the challenge of UKAS accreditation. But there is another arm to quality monitoring that tends to be more immediate than UKAS and that is proficiency testing. In the drug-testing arena there are a number of proficiency testing schemes that aim to independently monitor the actual performance of laboratory analyses and compare results between laboratories. The Society of Hair Testing (SOHT), for example, can monitor hair testing, by the circulation of homogeneous samples of hair to participating laboratories. Each laboratory then receives copies of its results and can see how those results compare to other laboratories. This is data that should be available to any customer.