Doctors Mishandling Teen Drug Tests
Majority don't follow procedures
that ensure accuracy, study finds
TUESDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Urine
tests aimed at detecting teen drug abuse are more widely
used than ever before, but a new study suggests most doctors
don't have enough training to ensure test results are
correct and unadulterated.
According to experts, a properly collected
urine sample includes: making sure those being tested
provide identification; having patients empty their pockets
and use the bathroom without running water; checking the
sample immediately for proper temperature; and placing blue
dye in any standing water. Also, a staff member should
directly observe the patient as they provide the sample, or
at least be present inside the bathroom.
But when researchers at Harvard Medical
School and Children's Hospital in Boston surveyed of 360
primary-care doctors, they found that most reported failed
to use these techniques when collecting urine samples from
kids aged 12 to 18. Many were also unaware of the tests'
"This study shows that although most
primary-care physicians order urine drug tests, most do not
use recommended procedures for urine test collection,
validation and confirmation and lack the knowledge needed to
correctly interpret positive and negative results," the
study authors wrote in the February issue of the Archives
of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
The study found that only 23 percent of
doctors used an effective method of collecting urine samples
and only 10 percent knew that nitrous oxide, ecstasy and
oxycodone could not be detected in standard urine tests.
Sixty-one percent of the doctors gave the incorrect answer
or said "don't know" when asked if secondhand exposure to
marijuana smoke would bring about a positive result on a
urine drug test.
"Physicians and parents may be falsely
reassured that their child is not using a particular drug
when the child never underwent proper testing for it," the
Boson team conclude. On the other hand, "misinterpretation
of a false-positive finding can put adolescents at risk for
false accusation of substance use and diminished trust from
parents, school personnel and counselors."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has
urine drug screening.
-- Robert Preidt