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Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Oct 1;121(3):151-6.

A 6-year experience with urine drug testing by family service agencies in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Clinical & Forensic Toxicologist, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, 1278 Tower Road, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 2Y9.


The objective of this study is to describe a urine drug-testing program implemented for parents with a history of substance abuse by family service agencies in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. Nurse collectors went to the parents' home to obtain urine specimens under direct observation and then delivered the specimens to the toxicology laboratory or arranged shipment by courier under chain of custody. Each urine specimen was screened for cannabinoids, cocaine metabolite, opiates, amphetamines and benzodiazepines, ethyl alcohol and creatinine. All positive screening tests were confirmed by another method such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In 15,979 urine specimens collected from 1994 to 1999, the percent positive rate for one (or more) drugs/metabolites ranged from 45.6% (1994-1996) to 30.0% (1998, 1999). A total of 575 specimens (3.7%) were dilute (urine creatinine <25mg/dl). Positive rates in 15,404 non-dilute specimens from 1994 to 1999 were as follows: cannabinoids - 11.7%, benzodiazepines - 11.3%, cocaine metabolite - 3.7%, and ethyl alcohol - 2.6%. Most clients provided less than 20 urine specimens for testing but some individuals submitted urine specimens more than 100 times in a 12-15-month period. Urine drug screening in parents with a history of substance abuse provided an objective and reliable indication of recent drug use in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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