1. The scientific study of adverse effects that occur in living organisms due to chemicals. It involves observing and reporting symptoms, mechanisms, detection and treatments of toxic substances, in particular relation to the poisoning of humans.
A toxicology screen is a test designed to determine the presence, type and (sometimes) the amount of legal or illegal drugs ingested by a patient.
Toxicology tests are utilized in many different fields: medical diagnostics, employment screening, forensic analysis, athletics testing, obstetrics, autopsies, and organ transplant analysis.
Toxicology testing for pain management practices is an invaluable tool that can be used to determine if a patient's body is properly metabolizing the medication(s) they are being given (2).
When a patient's body is not producing the proper active drug metabolites from their medication it alludes to one of several possibilities:
One: The patient is likely a variant metabolizer for that medication and could be at an elevated risk for an adverse drug reaction. A dosage adjustment or alternative medication may be recommended.
Two: The patient could be (knowingly or unknowingly) consuming a substance that either induces or inhibits a metabolic pathway necessary for their medication to be properly metabolized.
Three: The patient is not actively taking and potentially diverting their medication.
Utilization of toxicology assurance programs can protect physicians from malpractice claims and these tests are highly valuable in determining which patients qualify as prime candidates for pharmacogenetics testing. Toxicology assurance is quickly becoming the first line of defense against toxic and potentially fatal adverse drug reactions in many fields of medicine (1).
1) Rifat MD. Pharmacological and Legal Need for Quantitative Drug Analysis. San Diego, CA: Alcala Testing and Analysis; 2016.
2) What is Toxicology? [Internet]: News Medical Life Sciences; c2016 [cited 2016 10/10]. Available from: http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Toxicology.aspx.