Viewpoint: Urine testing for opioids offers minimal clinical benefits

Testing drugs with a urine sample is standard procedure in the emergency department, but provides few clinical benefits, James Roberts, MD, a professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at Philadelphia-based Drexel University College of Medicine, wrote in a column for Emergency Medical News.

Many outpatient treatment centers and physician's offices now use urine-based drug testing to identify appropriate patients for drug addiction treatment programs.  

However, many physicians order urine tests as a reflex when evaluating patients in the ED, even though it may not be necessary, according to Dr. Roberts.

"[T] the actual benefit of a urine drug screen to substantiate a specific diagnosis or to guide treatment is minimal," he concluded. "Even the otherwise prescient and sagacious clinician's knowledge of the value, accuracy and intricacies of urine drug testing can be marginal."

More articles on opioids:

3 states pass laws restricting opioid prescriptions: 5 things to know
MetroHealth cuts opioid prescribing by 3M pills in 18 months
4 ways Cook County Health and Hospitals System is addressing opioid addiction

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