What to Expect When Attending an Appointment

It’s always a little daunting no matter what medical tests you are undertaking so we do our best to put you at ease. No judgements are made, we simply meet, greet and get on with the job of hair collection.

Before we start the collection process, there are a few administration issues we need to take care of such as completing a form for the lab where you have the opportunity to state prescription medications and any other type of over the counter drugs you may have been taking. This gives the forensic scientist some background information that may explain any unexpected positive results. You also have the opportunity to state if you have been exposed to any illicit drugs.

For the correct processes to occur,  you will need to be properly identified via a passport or drivers licence. A photo is essential for identification purposes, we can not proceed otherwise. If you have neither, a current photo will do, even one from your smart phone. Lack of photo ID is most likely to be the case when testing young children that have been inadvertently exposed to drugs.

Once paperwork and identification is out the way, you are shown into a room where the hair collection takes place. Before we start the hair collection we explain the procedure and what to expect during the consultation.

The hair sample taken only needs to be pencil thickness and at least 3 cm long. It is cut as close as possible to the scalp using sterilised stainless steel scissors. We take great care to choose an area that will be least noticed, usually from the back of the head. When hair is very short, this is not always possible but we are always mindful and choose wisely.

Once the hair sample is taken, the person being tested witnesses the seal we place on the envelope containing the hair sample. The donor witnesses and signs off as an assurance that the hair sample sent to the lab is indeed from them. Should anyone attempt to open the envelope the seal would be broken hence would compromise the results. The lab always reports if the seal is intact or not, guaranteeing the person tested, from the time the hair was collected and delivered to the lab there was no interference to this process.

It is always important to assure the person tested they can trust the whole process which is why the seal is always applied in front of them, everything is transparent and any question can be asked.

Once this is completed the envelope is mailed to the forensic lab via registered mail. Results usually take 5 – 7 days. For those that can not attend the clinic we are able to send out drug hair testing kits. To read more about this click here.

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