• Instrumental and Non-instrumental Methods of Drug Urine Testing

    Urine testing methods fall into the two categories of instrumental and non-instrumental. Both of these drug testing methods use immunoassay technology to check if there is any traces of drug in the sample and instrumental testing uses chromatography technology to confirm the presence and determine the quantity of the drug.

    Instrument Testing

    This type of testing involves a machine that samples, measures and produces a quantitative result, usually as a numeric amount on a scale.

    The advantages of instrumental drug testing are that it can be automated since it’s being done by a machine and it provides accurate documentation of the testing done. It’s also easy to store samples for potential retesting purposes.

    Modern machines usually have the ability to put results directly into an information management  system on a computer.

    Reagents for testing are usually not as expensive for the machines as they are for non-instrumental testing, however, trained staff are required to run the machines. Most manufacturers provide staff training on their machines. So, although cost per test is usually relatively low, the initial cost of the machine and the staff training required have to also be taken into account.

    Non-Instrument Testing: Point-of-Contact Tests

    Simply put, non-instrument drug testing is testing that is carried out without machines. This type of testing requires taking samples manually and manually observing the results to produce either a positive or negative results.

    Point-of-contact testing uses a non-instrument device (like an all-in-one cup or dip strip) to perform a test at the point of collection (regardless of where the sample is collected). And while they don’t give you as much comprehensive information as instrument testing, they are easy to use and provide quick and accurate results.

    The cost per test of these is generally higher than the cost per test when performing instrument testing but the total volume of tests being performed should also be taken into consideration.

    Although anyone can perform a non-instrumental test, having trained staff is preferred, especially if the tests rely on the reading of a color card to determine a positive or negative result.

    Arrangements also need to be made if samples need to be stored and test results need to be documented for retrieval.

    Generally, if a non-instrumental test gives a positive result, that result should be confirmed by instrumental testing.


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