Forensic Drug Testing

Forensic drug testing can be more complex than regular hospital-based drug testing programs because in order to investigate the cause of death, specimens can be tested for the presence of a wide variety of drugs including commonly abused drugs. The toxicology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences has issued the following policy statement "confirmation of results is essential in forensic toxicology. Positive results of toxicological screening tests, regardless of the method used, and positive toxicological analysis results obtained by immunoassay methods should be adequately confirmed before the results are used for forensic purposes, or clearly be designated as unconfirmed results. Analysis methods used for attempted confirmation of presumptive results must be appropriately sensitive and specific or unequivocally selective for analyte in question, and must be based upon different chemical or physical principles than the initial method." GC/MS is widely used in a forensic laboratory for confirmation of a variety of drugs. In addition, high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry is also a very useful technique in a forensic toxicology laboratory. Both polar and non-polar drugs can be analyzed using HPLC/MS.

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