Indications for Testing
Testing for toxicity may be indicated in the following situations:
- Accidental or intentional poisoning from illicit or licit substances
- Decontamination or detoxification
- Suspected overdose of licit or illicit substances in a patient presenting with altered cognition
- Metabolic acidosis of unknown cause
- Signs and symptoms of toxicity in the event of a known or suspected hazardous exposure
Timing of Specimen Collection
In an acute emergency, specimens should be collected as soon as possible if toxicity is suspected. If assessing decontamination or detoxification (eg, in the case of Tylenol poisoning), retest intervals are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Whole blood, serum, or plasma is used for most testing and can provide both quantitative and qualitative information. Urine may be used in select cases when only qualitative information is needed.
Frequently Asked Questions