In summary, pain management has become a significant driver and utilizer for lab toxicology testing. Screening and confirming opiates, and other drugs, in the urine of patients being prescribed analgesics has become very common. The abuse of prescription medications (opiates) is a serious and growing problem. The laboratory can play a vital role in assessing the compliance of patients and in assisting clinicians in their management of PM patients. Because many physicians who practice PM are not trained in toxicology or even PM (and are often only primary care physicians learning PM as they go), they often need help interpreting laboratory results. The laboratorian can provide a key service to clinicians in PM and addiction medicine if they are able to:
- Explain their screening assay's performance and cross reactivities
- Help make sense of results given the prescription of the patient
- Identify adulterated samples
- Answer routine questions about what services and which drugs the lab can detect and not detect.
The laboratorian can take an active role in PM. Once the value of the knowledgeable toxicology technologist is known to a clinician group that technologist will quickly become a reference and resource for many clinicians. Such recognition helps to elevate one's scope of practice, self esteem and the practice of laboratory medicine.