Thursday, September 6th, 2018

What are the limitations of “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits?


  • The device should be only used for the qualitative detection of drugs of abuse in sample type it is intended for. Follow the instructions carefully
  • The assay provides a screen test result A more specific alternative chemical method (such as GCMS, LCMS or similar) must be used in order to obtain a confirmed analytical result. ITS recommend that a UKAS accredited laboratory is used within the UK
  • There is always a possibility that technical or procedural errors as well as other substances and factors may interfere with the test and cause false Follow the instructions carefully
  • A “POC positive” screen result may indicate the presence of a drug/metabolite only, and does not indicate or measure intoxication/impairment. Impairment is difficult to measure and is often “subjective”. However, ITS deliver a unique training course that covers specific signs and symptoms to assist in the detection of impairment and give confidence in Policy decision making
  • A negative POC screen result does not at any time rule out the presence of drugs/metabolites – as they may well be present below the minimum detection level of the This could be due to passive exposure or being at the “tail end” of the window of detection
  • Screen test results do not always distinguish between drugs of abuse and certain medications (prescription or otherwise). E.g. an Opiate test strip will give a screen positive result for both Heroin and Opiate medications (e.g. co-codamol). ITS have a specific 6-MAM test strip which will indicate that the opiate result is due to Heroin rather than medication. However, a more specific alternative chemical method (such as GCMS, LCMS or similar) may be used in conjunction with a Chain of Custody process in order to obtain a confirmed analytical result and whether it is due to medications or not. This result is quantifiable (an actual measurement) and specific – can break down the result into various compounds such as parent drug and it’s metabolites. The opinions of a Medical Review Officer (MRO) may also be required – where a confirmation result is challenged for example

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