What can a urine drug screening immunoassay really tell us [review]?
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Urine drug screening has become standard of care in many medical practice settings to assess compliance, detect misuse, and/or to provide basis for medical or legal action. The antibody-based enzymatic immunoassays used for qualitative analysis of urine have significant drawbacks that clinicians are often not aware of. Recent literature suggests that there is a lack of understanding of the shortcomings of these assays by clinicians who are ordering and/or interpreting them. This article addresses the state of each of the individual immunoassays that are most commonly used today in order to help the reader become proficient in the interpretation and application of the results. Some literature already exists regarding sources of "false positives" and "false negatives," but none seem to present the material with the practicing clinician in mind. This review aims to avoid overwhelming the reader with structures and analytical chemistry. The reader will be presented relevant clinical knowledge that will facilitate appropriate interpretation of immunoassays regardless of practice settings. Using this review as a learning tool and a reference, clinicians will be able to interpret the results of commonly used immunoassays in an evidence-based, informed manner and minimize the negative impact that misinterpretation has on patient care.
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