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Testing at a toxicology testing lab in Los Angeles is performed to check for the presence of drugs and other substances in blood, saliva, or urine. Hair samples may also be tested. In some instances, tox testing evaluates sweat and stomach contents.
- The purpose of any type of toxicology testing is to identify abnormal levels of chemicals naturally within the body as well as substances not normally found in a human body.
- Testing may be done on up on 30 different drugs or substances at once.
Medical Toxicology Testing
A physician may order testing at a toxicology testing lab in Los Angeles if it’s suspected that a patient has some type of substance in their body causing their symptoms or suffering from an apparent drug overdose of either an illegal substance or a prescription medication. Tox testing is sometimes requested if it’s believed that an individual was given a date rape drug or other substances without their knowledge.
Workplace Drug Testing
Workplace screenings may include the testing of new hires or required periodic testing of employees. Regular workplace drug testing is often mandatory for individuals who work with the public or employees who work around children or patients in healthcare settings. Some employers have a random testing policy where tests, usually with a urine sample, may be required at any time without notice.
Athletic Toxicology Testing
Athletes participating in extracurricular activities such as football or other types of high school or college sports may be required to take periodic drug tests to check for illegal substances. Some athletic organizations also require tox screenings for performance-enhancing drugs that may give competitors an unfair advantage.
Toxicology testing may be requested by a coroner or medical examiner following death if the cause of death isn’t known or if a death was violent or unexpected, as may be the case with a healthy individual who has no significant medical history. For instance, postmortem testing (forensic toxicology) is often performed if an individual died of a drug overdose but it’s not clear what drug was injected or ingested. It’s also part of a standard autopsy.
Substances Identified in Results
Testing can be done to identify just about any substance that may found within the human body with toxicology testing. Even so, there are certain drugs that are commonly identified with such tests, including:
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to confirm marijuana use.
- Illegal, over-the-counter, and prescription opiates
Preparing for Toxicology Testing
Any medications an individual is currently taking for legitimate reasons may adversely affect results provided by a toxicology testing lab in Los Angeles. Because of the possibility of misinterpreting results or receiving a false positive, patients are encouraged to provide a list of medications being used on a recurring or temporary basis. Results may be also used to determine eligibility to play in a competition or determine employment status. Results can be affected by:
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Vitamins and dietary supplements
- Herbal supplements and other natural health products
Toxicology Test Collection Methods
Samples taken for toxicology tests often involve urine collection with a special container with a screw-on lid or the drawing of blood with a sterile needle placed into a vein. Swab samples are often collected from the mouth or inside of the cheek. For drug tests, supervision by someone of the same sex may be required to ensure the accuracy of the sample. Saliva is collected by either spitting into a tube or swabbing the inside of the cheek.
Qualitative and Quantitative Test Results
Basic toxicology testing (immunoassay) is considered qualitative. This means the results will show what drugs or substances are in a sample. However, the exact quantity (amount) of those substances will not be shown on the report. If there is a need to know the specific levels, toxicology confirmation testing may be done on the same sample with different testing methods (liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry or gas chromatography–mass spectrometry). In addition to providing more details, secondary test results can also confirm the accuracy of the results from the first test.
Results provided by a toxicology testing lab in Los Angeles are presented in a report that will show levels of the various drugs, chemicals, or substances within the analyzed sample. As long as there were no issues with the samples tested, results are highly reliable and accurate, especially when a tox confirmation is done following the initial test. Whether or not advanced testing is required will depend on the purpose of the test.