Chain of Custody
The results of a drug or alcohol test can have life-changing ramifications for a donor. For this reason, we handle every single sample with painstaking attention to detail and integrate around the philosophy that ‘behind every test is a life’. Following a strict chain of custody procedure gives peace of mind to both our customers and donors.
The chain of custody is the chronological documentation or paper trail, showing the collection, transfer, receipt, analysis, storage, and disposal of the sample. This ensures that any results we report relate beyond all reasonable doubt to a particular individual.
If the results should ever need to be used in court as evidence, our chain of custody records are fully defensible and can disprove any allegations of tampering or misconduct.
We firstly check the donor’s photographic ID so that we can be sure who is providing the sample. We then obtain their consent to test and during the collection we protect against sample adulteration or substitution. Unique barcodes are placed on the sample vials and on the laboratory paperwork so that the sample is tied with the information on the paperwork. Tamper evident seals are also placed on the specimen containers to show if any attempt has been made to remove them.
Both the Collecting Officer and the donor sign the laboratory paperwork before it and the sample are placed into secure packaging for transit to the laboratory. By signing the laboratory paperwork, the donor is confirming that the sealed sample is the sample that was collected from them.
Once the sample arrives at the laboratory, we check for any evidence of tampering and visible signs of contamination. The barcodes of the paperwork and samples are scanned into our LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System). The LIMS then tracks the sample during analysis, using the original sample barcode as a unique identifier at all stages of the process. All associated records for the analysis are retained and available to demonstrate traceability at audit.
Prior to reporting of analytical results a senior member of analytical staff reviews the analytical results and sample information before authorising the result for reporting. If a medical review is required a Medical Review Officer will conduct the review using the original sample barcode to identify the sample.
These processes ensure that a sample is clearly identified from sample collection, receipt at the laboratory, sample analysis, through to result reporting and medical review, ensuring that the final result has a traceable link to the individual from whom the sample was collected.
Developing a Standard
We have been instrumental in the development of UK Chain of Custody protocols for drug testing through our considerable presence on the European Workplace Drug Testing Society (EWDTS).
Behind every test is a life
We are ultimately responsible to the individuals whose samples we test and to organisations that rely on this information.