There are two major types of drug testing, medical and forensic. Although, they have many similarities, there still are a few significant differences that set them apart. The primary one is what the results of the tests are used for. While medical testing is obviously used for a variety of reasons in order to assist physicians with information, the results of forensic drug testing are often used for legal purposes.
When drug testing is done for medical purposes, the test is requested by a physician, who also receives the results. In forensic drug testing, it may be an employer or government official who requires the test to be performed, but it cannot take place without the written consent of the person being tested.
This is such a crucial factor. In fact, the test results may be destroyed if they were found to have been obtained without consent. Yes, consent is the second important difference between medical and forensic drug tests.
Identity of Specimen
It is of the utmost importance that the identity of the person undergoing a forensic drug test be unequivocally tied to the specimen they are providing: there can be no question whatsoever about who each specimen belongs to. In fact, there is a very exacting chain of evidence procedure to be followed for every single test.
Of course, it is an important factor in medical drug testing, as well. That said, the process is more one of policy protocol. Medical facilities are naturally expected to be careful about labeling specimens. In legal cases, however, the process must be documented every step of the way.
When medical tests are performed, the physician will receive the results and then follow the due course of action, depending solely on the results. In forensic drug testing, however, this may be a two-step process. If the results are negative for the drugs being tested, then no further action will be taken. If the results are positive, however, they will require confirmation.
This practice is followed due to the possibility of false positives. No one wants action to be taken based on results that may not be accurate, so every positive result in forensic drug testing must be confirmed.
All medical testing is done in medical facilities of some sort. Sometimes it can be done in the doctor’s office or a hospital. There are also a great many stand-alone laboratory facilities across the states which will do the testing of all kinds. It’s mention-worthy that many of these labs do both medical and forensic testing.
However, there are kits available for forensic drug testing which can be purchased by general public. It is possible to do the original screening almost anywhere. These testing kits allow drug tests to be performed at a much lower cost, since all negative results will require nothing further.
It is only when positive results are obtained, that additional screening is required. At that point, testing will most likely continue in a medical lab, where the results will be either confirmed or found to be in error. When the results are not confirmed, the findings can be dismissed, even though the original test returned a negative result in the first place.