Diagnosis gone awry: A flawed drug test could be sending thousands of innocent people to jail each year

Peggy Zuckerman peggyzuckerman at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 12 19:25:38 UTC 2016

Are there resources which are generally available to medical providers and
the public so as to alert them to the potential errors that exist in the
instances which Brian Jackson mentions?  Just as well-educated patients are
told to discuss drug interactions with a pharmacist, especially when they
receive multiple meds from multiple providers, these tests would certainly
be affected by multiple drugs as well.

Peggy Zuckerman

On Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 12:16 PM, Jackson, Brian <brian.jackson at aruplab.com>

> Absolutely terrifying article; another indictment of our truly
> dysfunctional criminal justice system.
> We see analogous issues within healthcare settings.  Drug testing is a
> huge industry, including both point-of-care devices and a range of
> commercial labs.  At our lab we get calls all the time from physicians,
> nurses, and social workers asking whether a set of test results means that
> the patient was abusing or diverting a particular drug or not.  Potential
> outcomes include expelling patients from pain management programs, removal
> of newborns from their mothers, and in some cases referral to the police.
> Even scientifically "good" drug testing technologies often have
> interpretative subtleties due to complex and variable metabolic pathways,
> not to mention antibody cross-reactivity.  Outside of healthcare settings,
> drug testing is increasingly being used by employers or even parents
> checking up on their teenagers.
> We're pleased to field these interpretive phone calls.  What's worrisome
> is not knowing how many misunderstandings occur each day when the decision
> maker doesn't seek clarification, and what sorts of decisions might result
> from those misunderstandings.
> --Brian Jackson
> ________________________________
> From: Mark Graber [graber.mark at GMAIL.COM]
> Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 12:09 PM
> Subject: [IMPROVEDX] Diagnosis gone awry: A flawed drug test could be
> sending thousands of innocent people to jail each year
> This is a disturbing article in this week’s NY Times magazine on the
> roadside tests police use to detect narcotics.  People are being jailed for
> narcotics possession based on tests that have high, and unknown, rates of
> false positive results.
> http://tinyurl.com/zhqm44o
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