Screening for Drugs Using Chemical Analyzer

This test uses a machine to check for the presence of one or more specific drugs in the blood, hair, urine or saliva.




This test uses a machine to check for the presence of one or more specific drugs in the blood, hair, urine or saliva.



This drug screening test uses a machine to check for the presence of one or more specific drugs. The sample tested can be blood, hair, urine or saliva. The type of sample used depends on the specific circumstances. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each sample type. The period of time during which a drug will test positive also depends on the type of sample used, how much of the drug a person has taken and how fast someone's body breaks down the drug. For example:

  • Urine – This sample is needed to test for amphetamines, cocaine, opiates and marijuana. A urine sample will be positive if a drug has been taken in the previous two to three days. However, marijuana and its end products can be present in the urine for several weeks.
  • Hair – This sample can be used prior to starting a job or after an accident. The root of a single hair can show drug use in the past two to three months. However, it is not always correct in determining drug abuse in the previous two to three weeks.
  • Blood – This sample is often used to determine the level of alcohol in the blood.
  • Saliva – This sample typically can determine if a drug has been used in the previous twenty-four hours.

Testing for drugs can be done for several different reasons, such as:

  • Medical screening, including suspected abuse or overdose
  • Legal information, including checking for illegal drug abuse and court-mandated testing (may have specific rules for collection and transport)
  • Employment drug testing, such a pre-employment, post-accident and random screening; (may have specific rules for collection and transport)
  • Testing of athletes for performance enhancing medications (may have specific rules for collection and transport)

A positive test means that a drug was found above the established level. A test is negative if the test result is "not detected" or "none detected." This means that the drug was not found above the established level.

  • A negative result does not mean the drug was not present below established levels or that it was never present. It is also possible that the test method does not detect the drug the provider is looking for. This is called a “false negative”.
  • A positive result does not necessarily mean the drug was present in the sample provided. Several medications (cough syrup) and food products (poppy seeds) can result in a positive reading if taken during a specific time frame. This is called a “false positive”.

If a blood sample is required, the costs in this care path do not include the charge to draw blood from a vein (venipuncture). There will only be one charge to draw blood, even if multiple tests are being performed on the samples that are taken.

What should I ask before having this test?

  • What type of sample is required for the test you are recommending?
  • What drug are you testing for?
  • Is there any special preparation for the test? (If so, get clear steps to follow.)
  • Are there any medications or types of food that can affect the test results?
  • Can a positive result occur if I have not taken any illegal drugs? What will happen if I get a positive result?

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Screening for Drugs Using Chemical Analyzer
Laboratory Work
Drug Screening


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