Going above & beyond – The gold standard in Drug & Alcohol Screening

Clinical Labs

While urine may be considered the gold standard in drug and alcohol screening (DAS), there are situations where a different solution is required in order to keep workplaces safe.

Australian Clinical Labs toxicologist Dasun Suwandaratne says the company is about to launch on-site saliva testing for drugs.

“Saliva can be offered to clients depending on worksite needs,” he said.

“It offers an alternative matrix where typical urine setups might be logistically challenging,” he said.

ToxWipe 7 is Australian Clinical Labs’ preferred on-site testing device for saliva.
ToxWipe 7 is Australian Clinical Labs’ preferred on-site testing device for saliva.

“In urine testing, you need to have a separate toilet, the taps must be closed off, nothing can be in the toilet while the testing takes place, and the toilet water needs to have blue stuff added to it.

“There are various setups required which can be quite tedious if a client’s premises doesn’t allow that.

“With saliva, you don’t need that kind of protocol – we can just go to site and do the collection.”

Australian Clinical Labs offers confirmation from an on-site non-negative result and provides further laboratory-based screenings and confirmations depending on the client’s needs.

Mr Suwandaratne says saliva testing negates privacy issues surrounding urine testing.

“The donors will always be facing our collectors and there are no real opportunities for donors to fake the system,” he said.

“Both parties will be in the vicinity or view of each other the entire time.”

Mr Suwandaratne adds that saliva testing is used for the same drug classes as urine but there is one distinguishing factor.

“The majority of them they are looking at the parent drug rather than the metabolites as with the urine,” he said.

“We do have the addition of oxycodone in saliva which we currently do not test for in urine.

“Because the mouth has a lot of blood vessels where the drugs diffuse from into the saliva, the levels calculated in saliva are similar to that of what is in the blood for most of the drug classes.

Australian Clinical Labs’ toxicology department does confirmation testing on the LCMS instrument in its laboratory.
Australian Clinical Labs’ toxicology department does confirmation testing on the LCMS instrument in its laboratory.

“This will allow for additional information, such as, estimating more accurately when someone has taken a particular drug and the likely level of impairment.”

How does this work? What is involved for clients?

Australian Clinical Labs offers rapid lab-based drug screening and confirmation in both urine and saliva, in accordance with both AS 4308 and AS 4760. The company also offers lab-based alcohol screening.

In recognising the fast-paced operational and productivity needs of mining clients, the company provides on-site drug screening in urine, on-site saliva screening and on-site alcohol breath testing.

Instant DAS kits and saliva kits can be supplied for these on-site collections and testings.

ToxWipe 7 is Australian Clinical Labs’ preferred on-site testing device for saliva.

“The collector will use this device to swab the mouth and it will provide a rapid onsite negative or non-negative response on-the-spot,” Mr Suwandaratne said.

“If the result is negative, all is good, but if the person tested returns a non-negative, the collectors on-site will send me the person’s saliva collection, where our team will do confirmation testing on the LCMS instrument in our laboratory.”

The entire process for saliva testing takes a few hours – this includes the setup and cleanup but the individual sampling itself take about 15 minutes.

The instrument run time can vary depending on the number of samples.

“We have the ability to do everything in a day,” Mr Suwandaratne said.

“We are able to get the sample extracted, run on the instrument and provide the client with the results the same day for an additional fee as it will require some extra resources in term of staff time.”

Drug and alcohol testing is paramount to keeping workplaces safe and reducing the risks of accidents or injuries due to workers being affected by drugs or alcohol.

Rapid turnaround time & always one step ahead

Australian Clinical Labs can assist companies with providing a safe work environment for all employees.

“We have a team of qualified, experienced and highly professional personnel that we can mobilise whenever we need to go to site or office to perform urine and saliva

DAS, as well as breath alcohol testing,” Mr Suwandaratne said.

“We also perform blood collections onsite for immunity screening or biological monitoring and we are able to provide this service for both large- and small-scale operations.”

The toxicology department of Australian Clinical Labs consists of clinical experts, including Mr Suwandaratne and Dr Tony Mak, that are on-hand to help businesses with any toxicology-related queries.

Along with performing drug screening in both urine and saliva, according to their respective Australian Standards, the team also tests for alcohol in urine along with other drugs that a client may request.

“We are continuously improving our evaluation methods to ensure authentic screening,” Mr Suwandaratne said.

“We consistently investigate other markers in urine, keeping our clients one step ahead of the game when it comes to this kind of integrity testing.”

Australian Clinical Labs offers rapid turnaround time, quality analysis and reporting and have the ability to test for other drugs that are not routinely included in the AS 4308 standard list of drugs.

“Our commercial team are more than happy to answer any queries and can assist in catering solutions that suit the needs of individual organisations,” Mr Suwandaratne said.

“We value long-term partnerships and strive to provide a service that is unparalleled every time.”

Dasun Suwandaratne BSc (hons) MSc

Australian Clinical Labs Toxicologist

Dasun Suwandaratne BSc(hons) MSc

Dasun Suwandaratne is a toxicologist with almost 15 years’ experience within the field of toxicology (both forensic and workplace). This includes senior roles both in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Dasun has previously worked as a senior examiner at LGC Forensics (now known as Eurofins’ Forensic Services) in London, before migrating to Australia to take on the role of chief scientist (toxicology, special chemistry and trace elements) at Laverty Pathology.

Dasun’s main projects have included:

  • improving the efficiencies for urinary drugs of abuse testing to AS/NZS 4308:2008;
  • revalidating oral fluid analysis for drugs of abuse in accordance to AS/NZS 4760:2019; and
  • analysis of synthetic cannabinoids using high resolution mass spectrometry set up.

Dasun has brought his expertise to the role of scientist-in-charge (toxicology) for Clinical Labs WA, with a focus on expanding drugs and alcohol services (DAS) including saliva testing.