We are an established clinic based in Melbourne offering hair drug testing and expert forensic interpretation for both family and criminal law matters. A positive or negative drug hair test result could make all the difference to legal proceedings.
Our Forensic Lab
All hair samples are sent to our NATA accredited (ISO/IEC 17025) forensic science laboratory that follows strict protocols recommended by the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT). The lab sets the industry standard for best practice guidelines for drug testing in hair to ensure hair testing can be accepted as evidence for legal proceedings. The forensic lab has been providing expert analysis of drug detection in hair since 1994 and predominately conducts work for the coroner’s office and police departments. The sensitive instrumentation can detect very low doses (20-50 pg/mg levels) of drugs in hair. This means an infrequent drug user will be detected unlike other cheaper forms of testing that will only detect the chronic drug user.
The forensic lab uses liquid chromatographic techniques with tandem mass spectrometry. This has the advantage of being able to simultaneously screen and identify a wider range of drugs in a single analysis with a high degree of sensitivity. The lab has the greatest drug detection capacity in Australia covering up to 60 drugs. Results are peer reviewed by forensic toxicologists before final reports are released.
Immunoassays commonly used for rapid screening in other labs often fail to detect low drug levels and can only target specific drugs rather than a wide range. It may be initially cheaper and faster but is limited to being drug specific and most likely fail to detect social or occasional users, hence potentially fail to meet legal requirements. SoHT in fact recommends all positive immunoassay screenings should be followed up by mass spectrometry.
One of the key benefits of hair drug testing is to provide a historical profile of the donor’s exposure to drugs. Hair is a stable tissue less affected by adulterants or short-term abstinence and can be stored indefinitely.
Hair has the advantage over blood or urine, being able to confirm long-term exposure to drugs over a period of weeks to months depending on the length of hair collected. Head hair grows approximately 1cm per month, so length of hair will determine the time frame that can be investigated. The ideal range is 3 months represented in 3cm length of head hair. Hair can also be obtained from chest, armpit and pubic regions however time lines are difficult to establish as body hair grows at vastly different rates.
An external wash of the hair is conducted prior analysis to remove hair care products, sweat, sebum and other surface material that may interfere with the testing. The wash also removes any potential external contamination of drugs. Testing can discriminate between external contamination and drugs incorporated through ingestion as the parent drug and their metabolite(s) can be separately determined.
For a full list of drugs tested in our standard drug profile click here
Our Forensic Toxicologists
Expert interpretation is conducted by the lab’s Forensic Toxicologists who are nationally recognised as leading authorities in the drug hair testing arena. They are able to appear in court to attest to the validity and accuracy of the lab results or prepare written reports further clarifying the interpretation of complex drug results or offer a second opinion. Additional fees apply for comprehensive reports or expert witness court attendances.
Our Collection Site
Our collection site is located at Brunswick Health where we employ strict hair collection protocols. Chain of custody of the hair sample is critical as well as providing an environment clean of any possible external drug contaminates. All information is kept confidential in keeping with privacy laws.
Organising a Drug Test for Clients
It is best for clients to attend for an appointment at the clinic. Photo ID will be required on the day. For children a certified copy or the original birth certificate is required along with parental photo ID.
For all interstate clients, best to email all contact details to organise a kit to be sent with step-by-step instructions. Please note the kit can only be sent to a nominated individual who is either a registered nurse or medical practitioner. Kits are not sent to the person being tested or parties directly involved as the chain of custody must be preserved and not compromised.
Common scenarios where hair drug testing could be considered
Divorce proceedings to prove illicit drug use.
Child custody disputes and child welfare cases.
Employment screenings, accident investigations or wrongful dismissal.
Medical misadventures or Accidental medical drug exposure.
Drug use or doping in athletes.
Drug use amongst military personal.
DUID. Motor vehicle accidents and fatalities while under the influence.
Date rape investigations.
Probation or parole cases.
Monitoring drug users.
To view more Frequently Asked Questions click here
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