Drug & Alcohol Testing:

The Importance of Chain of Custody

At SYNLAB Laboratory Services, we understand the need for accuracy. When a customer requests a drug and alcohol collection and back to laboratory analysis, our nationwide team of Collection Technicians, experienced Laboratory Analysts and accredited processes ensure we provide customers with results that can be relied upon and where relevant, defended in a court of law.

One way we deliver this is through our strict chain of custody (CoC) procedures.

What is a Chain of Custody?

Chain of custody refers to a system of controls and procedures that document the progress of a sample from the point of collection through the laboratory to its disposal after the results have been accepted. It’s important to note that for random testing the chain of custody process starts from the point at which the donor is chosen. This is to ensure that the donor has been fairly chosen at random and the collection is not undermined, which in turn could affect the validity of the results.

Why is it important?

A successful chain of custody guarantees that the results you receive from us are reliable and will stand up in court. An intact chain of custody will also unequivocally link the sample to the donor, and the result of the test.

How do we maintain a Chain of Custody?

A chain of custody collection can take place either when the result of an instant test is non-negative and the sample requires confirmation analysis, or when a primary screen in the lab is required.

SYNLAB Laboratory Services follows rigorous chain of custody procedures when undertaking any test, from the collection of the sample right through to the reporting of results:

  • SYNLAB Laboratory Services operates the only ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited chain of custody service in the UK.  This level of scrutiny of our collection processes ensures that one of the most important parts of the collection – sending the sample to the laboratory – is completed with the utmost care by our highly competent Collection Technicians. Our collection processes also comply with GDPR and ensure that only relevant information is collected.
  • Safeguard Digital, our digital tablet based drug and alcohol collection service, allows samples to be tracked. The service manages the sample collection lifecycle from start to end and replace the multiple data entry points with one streamlined collections process.
  • Chain of custody checks continue when the sample arrives at our laboratory, this includes checking that the unique identifier printed on the chain of custody form matches the labels used on the samples. This unique identifier is an integral step in maintaining the chain of custody of the sample and in providing a legally defensible result.
  • A full chain of custody audit trail is maintained throughout the analytical process.
  • To ensure that only authorised individuals are able to access sensitive information our digitalized chain of custody forms are only sent to authorised personnel.
  • Before authorisation all results are checked by an authorising scientist against our strict quality control checks.
  • In order to maintain the integrity of the samples as well as the chain of custody, samples are stored based on the date they arrive and where they are in the analytical process. Samples are stored using their unique identifier so that they may be retrieved for further analysis if required.

For more information on our chain of custody procedures, contact our Customer Services team on 01873 856 688 or email [email protected].

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