Pain Management: 5 Reasons To Perform In-House Drug Screenings

With DEA crackdowns on narcotic pain medications, many physicians are referring their chronic pain patients to pain management clinics. Pain management clinics require additional monitoring before and during treatment with narcotics. As a pain management facility, having in-house drug screenings is beneficial to your facility and the patients who require treatment with narcotic pain medications.

In-Depth Testing

Your facility may limit drug screenings to urine tests. Not all drugs can be identified purely on urine tests. Investing in your own laboratory equipment allows your facility to utilize other testing measures, such as hair samples, blood and plasma, which can offer more definitive results. Testing blood plasma is not only beneficial when testing for misuse of prescription medications or use of illicit drugs, but it can be used to determine therapeutic levels of narcotic medications.

If a patient continues to experience poorly controlled pain, even at the highest acceptable level of narcotic pain medications, simple testing may reveal unique metabolism of medications that does not allow the medication to reach a therapeutic level once it is taken. This information can be an important component in making medication decisions with the patient.

Faster Results

Outsourcing your drug screenings and other tests means it can take days or weeks for results to arrive. This can place patients in a compromising position. Patients who take their medication in a responsible manner may feel unfairly targeted and punished, because they may need to wait additional days before having a prescription refilled. In the case of patients who may be taking too much medication, you can find out this information while they wait and make quicker judgment calls on how to continue their pain management treatment.

Better Specimen Handling

The chain of command required for proper handling of specimens can become complex. Although mistakes are rare, the more people involved in procuring, handling and testing specimens, the more chance of errors. By acquiring and testing specimens in your own facility, you reduce the chance of lost and mislabeled specimens or results. This reduces the chance of needing to retest people who, in the case of some drugs, may have negative results upon subsequent testing.

Depending on the specific tests you will perform, even if you have a phlebotomist on-site to collect specimens, some types of tests must be performed immediately after specimen collection. Having your own testing capabilities means there are fewer tests that your facility cannot perform in-house. Additionally, fresher samples will yield results that are more accurate.

Fewer Long-Term Costs

The upfront costs of your own equipment, which can include a chemistry analyzer from a site like, medical supplies and testing kits, will be a significant initial investment. However, you can theoretically perform an infinite number of tests for the life of your equipment, and retest patients as needed. Another benefit to performing your own drug screenings is you can reinvest money in your own facility. You will need to hire at least one phlebotomist and a lab technician to perform testing, which adds job opportunities at your facility.

More Convenient For Patients

From the patient perspective, maintaining a relationship with a pain management clinic can be an inconvenience. For many patients, clinic appointments can require significant planning and travel time, especially if they experience mobility issues related to their chronic pain. Meeting several needs of your patients at one facility can make their life easier. Instead of having your patients travel to a hospital or outpatient laboratory for testing, they can make one stop.

In-house drug screenings for chronic pain patients is now a necessity to protect both doctors and patients. By investing in laboratory equipment for your facility, you can make the process less of an inconvenience and more reliable for everyone involved.