Toxicology Testing – You’re Thinking, “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If There Was an App For That?:

I was reading a blog written on PI Newswire about the difference between reality and perception when it comes to testing, such as toxicology testing for things like drugs, alcohol, poisons, chemicals and toxins.  Shows like CSI and Forensic Files even keep us on pins and needles; however, give the perception that intricate, scientific tests can be completed in one hour, even with commercial breaks.  Wow, the anticipation of a break every 15 minutes….

 This thought then led me to think about how our customers feel once they make a decision to have a test performed.  It is sort of like the holidays when we were children.  First, you knew the holidays were coming as soon as Halloween passed.  You began scouring the department store catalogs and making  lists upon lists of things you wanted from Santa, changing your mind every other day.  Thanksgiving arrived, possibly the first snow and you mailed that final list to Santa.  Anxiety immediately kicked in, causing heart palpitations as you sat on Santa’s lap, made Christmas cookies, held the final holiday party at school where you exchanged gifts.  You just couldn’t take it anymore!  Now it was time to bug the parents – Christmas should have been there by now.  “Mom, when is Santa going to come?”  “Why is it taking soooooo long?”.  You get the drift.  The child’s reality began the moment a twinkling of the holidays showed its face.  For the parents, it is usually a few days before as they rush to complete their shopping, wrap and hide gifts and prepare for the family get-together.

 This is not unlike making the decision to have a test performed.  Different emotions are tied to situations unique to the person who may be requesting a test.  These emotions may be:

  • Urgency – by an employer to get a candidate onto a job site
  • Fear – by a parent that may find out their child is using drugs
  • Anxiety – by a job candidate who needs to earn a paycheck as soon as possible to take care of his or her family
  • Dread – by a young woman who believes she was given a date rape drug at a party

 For the person living their situation, waiting is the last thing they want to do.  Their reality starts the moment they decide to proceed through the testing process.  It is easy to forget that time passes when research is done to figure out where and how to test something; a specimen must be collected or packaged; shipped; then received  by the laboratory.  What is heard is, “your test should be completed in XX days”…. blocking out the remaining part of this sentence, “from the time of sample receipt at the laboratory.”   This is quite understandable, a decision has been made and now the challenge lies in waiting for an answer.

 Believe it or not, laboratory personnel understand these feelings.  They hear the stories every day, which is actually why they continue to do what they are passionate about – sharing their scientific expertise to provide answers and solutions.  Yes, we want the test to be as quick as possible to relieve our customers’ fears and frustrations.  However, at the forefront is ensuring the results produced are accurate and dependable.  No one really wants to trade an incorrect test result for speed.

 So, how can perceptions be managed?  First of all, if you are having a test performed, ask what the turnaround time is, keeping in mind what must happen before the lab can start their technical work.  The specimen must be packaged, collected, and shipped before one bit of testing is started.  Add two to four days onto your expectation to take the pre-work into account.

 Secondly, know that not all testing cases are alike.  Specimens like urine, hair and pills are standard – the laboratory receives these types of samples every day and should be able to provide you test results by the time committed.  However, know that unusual specimens may take longer.  What is unusual?  The list is too long but includes degraded body tissue, stomach contents and old vials of blood.  Yes, we agree – this sounds gross.  But these are some of the unusual samples we do receive.  The point is this – just because a person orders an unknown poisons and toxins analysis does not necessarily mean test results for all types of specimens will be ready in ten business days, ExperTox’s turnaround time for this particular test.  Standard specimens are not a problem.  With unusual samples, the lab may need to try different methodologies just to get the specimen to work, taking extra time.  Some laboratories take several weeks and months for the unusual stuff!

 Third, relax.  Once a sample is submitted, it is out of your hands and placed in ours.  Our reputation relies on getting you test results as quickly as we can, while balancing accuracy and quality.  You will know that once you receive the result, you have a firm, dependable piece of evidence for which to make your next decision going forward.  If you just need some reassurance, we’re just a phone call or e-mail away.



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