Drug Testing

Clinical Spotlight: Hepatitis C

by Pablo Bolanos on October 19, 2017

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and a leading cause of liver cancer and transplants. An estimated 2.7-3.9 million people in the United States are infected with the virus. Nicknamed “a silent disease,” the vast majority—at least 50%— of HCV cases go undiagnosed and many result in fatalities that could have been prevented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if undiagnosed, the condition can escalate from a treatable to a chronic infection in 70-85% of those infected.

One subset of the population is particularly at risk; Baby Boomers. This generation—born between 1945 and 1965—is 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults. To put it in perspective, of all people diagnosed with the disease, approximately 3 in 4 are boomers. The reason for their higher susceptibility is not entirely known. One theory suggests baby boomers had greater exposure to contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screenings were the norm in the medical industry.

Health officials estimate that one-time testing of all Baby Boomers could prevent more than 120,000 hepatitis C virus-related deaths. Timely diagnosis, therefore, is critical to beginning treatment early.  Once diagnosed, patients have various options for treatment based on the stage of the disease as well as therapies that can help limit further disease.

Guidelines recommend screening for HCV for anyone who:

  • Was born between 1945 and 1965
  • Was or is currently an injection drug user
  • Received transfusions or organ transplants prior to July 1992
  • Has additional risk factors or medical conditions

In the end, there is hope and reason to believe that taking proactive action may have long-term positive consequences on the future of the disease, especially because, if it is caught in time, Hep C is preventable. Dr Bruce Bacon, Professor of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University of School and Medicine, is optimistic about the future of hepatitis C virus management saying, “If we find the patients and treat them appropriately, we could essentially eradicate hepatitis C.”

For patient and physician resources about hepatitis C, visit our website.

To set up a nationwide hepatitis C screening program, contact our dedicated team.

Ask the Experts: Hair drug test specimens

by Nicole Jupe on October 17, 2017

Q: Can a hair drug test be performed on someone with little or no hair?

We get many questions from both individuals scheduled for a drug screen and employers in anticipation of a hair drug test. They wonder how much hair is needed, what part of the head is the hair is cut from, whether color, bleach, shampoos, or salon treatments may interfere with test results, and how a hair collection is performed for someone who is lacking hair or is bald.

Typically, hair is cut from the crown of the back of the head in a way where it will not be noticeable. If the individual visits a Quest Diagnostics collection site, a professional collector is trained to cut only the small amount of hair needed for our laboratory to perform the test. If the cut hairs are placed side by side, the amount equals approximately ½ inch of hair.

If the donor does not have head hair or if their hair less than a ½ inch long, a specimen can be taken from other locations on the body. In order of preference, our collectors will cut body hair from the chest, underarm, leg, or facial hair to obtain a sample. Body hair is usually lighter in weight; therefore much more hair is needed to gather an adequate sample for a drug screen.

In the event that hair is not present in large quantities throughout the body, a collector may combine hair from different locations on the body and hair from different areas of the scalp to complete a single specimen collection. However, head hair and body hair cannot be mixed. The collector will always note the source of the hair sample on the envelope, which will aid in a more accurate interpretation of the final hair drug test result.

Hair testing is the only drug testing method available that provides up to a 90-day drug use history. This method of specimen collection has become increasingly popular as employers rely on hair testing as an effective way to evaluate long-term patterns of drug use.

Read our Hair Testing FAQs for more frequently asked questions about hair testing.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Half of Americans tested misused prescription medications

October 3, 2017Drug Testing

Quest Diagnostics Health Trends studies are published in peer-reviewed medical journals and by the company as a public service. The research features insights and analysis from a large database of laboratory data. Most recently, we released the Prescription Drug Misuse in America: Diagnostic Insights in the Growing Drug Epidemic report, which examined 3.4 million prescription […]

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Cincinnati: A 7-Day Look into Heroin Addiction

September 29, 2017Drug Testing

Advancements in technology allow us to experience more than just our own lives. Through the screens we hold, we passively watch, comment, and discuss as observers and bystanders. With the 24-hour news cycle and reality television, we can become desensitized and may even experience compassion fatigue, a side effect of vicariously experiencing trauma. When it […]

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Detect marijuana more often using oral fluid

September 27, 2017Oral Fluid testing

As state marijuana laws continue to change, it’s not surprising that marijuana use and drug test positivity are also on the rise. An estimated 24 million adults (aged 12 or older) currently use marijuana, according to latest data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. New technology in oral fluid testing has proven effective […]

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New data shows 1 in 10 Americans use drugs

September 25, 2017Drug Testing

More states than ever before allow the recreational use of marijuana, a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Opiate abuse claims 91 lives each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If users can’t obtain painkillers, they seek potent, cheaper alternatives like fentanyl or heroin. In short, drug use in our society continues to […]

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By the Numbers: Random Drug Testing Data

September 22, 2017Drug Testing

Companies drug test their applicants and employees at a variety of times, for a variety of reasons, using a variety of specimen types. The federally-mandated, safety-sensitive sector follows regulatory drug testing guidance, and in doing so establishes a model that is frequently followed by U.S. companies, who elect to perform drug testing because they see […]

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Advancing our online solutions

September 19, 2017Drug Testing

Moore’s law, in its broadest definition, states that technological advancements will continue at an exponentially rapid rate. At Quest Diagnostics, we know that when employers want to drug test an applicant or employee, they often need an electronic means by which to order, track, and review the progress of that test. With those two ideas […]

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What was in that brownie?

September 12, 2017Drug Testing

You know the smell. The someone’s-smoking-pot-smell. But did you know that, when baked, marijuana can become odorless, undetectable, and may even be more potent than when it is smoked1? Unfortunately, the Davis Regional Medical Center emergency room staff unwittingly learned this lesson firsthand. In April 2017, an employee unknowingly brought in baked goods that were […]

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