Accreditation Programs

Accreditation is playing an increasing role in the quality of work performed in forensic laboratories. It ensures that the laboratory has acceptable analytical methods, general procedures, and most important, that the standard operating procedures are followed. There are currently four organizations that offer accreditation in the field of forensic toxicology. The National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) is operated under private contract through the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).33 That NLCP program applies only to U.S. federally regulated testing in the specific area of forensic urine drug testing for amphetamine and methamphetamine, cannabinoids, codeine and morphine, cocaine, and phencyclidine. The College of American Pathologists also operates a voluntary program for forensic urine drugs testing, but which covers a slightly greater range of drugs of abuse in urine.34 However, the two major, broad-based accreditation programs that encompass forensic toxicology are run by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) and the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT).35,36 The ASCLD/LAB program covers all aspects of forensic laboratory management and operation, including forensic toxicology, whereas the ABFT program is focused on forensic toxicology, and specifically those laboratories performing postmortem toxicology and human performance drug testing (e.g., driving under the influence of drugs).

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