State toxicology lab to cease blood-alcohol and blood-drug testing
Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, announced the department’s toxicology laboratory will not resume blood-alcohol and blood-drug testing services.
On July 3, the state lab suspended this testing at its toxicology laboratory. Since that time, an independent lab, AIT Labs, completed its retesting of approximately 800 blood specimens and verified the accuracy of the testing completed at the state lab.
Dr. Wolk said, “The retesting results are overwhelmingly consistent with original results – 95 percent verification – so this is not a quality issue. There is no unmet public health need for the state to resume performing blood-alcohol and blood-drug services. These services can be provided – are being provided – by private sector laboratories at competitive prices.”
“We anticipate at least 50 percent of our client base would not return to the state lab for these services,” said Dr. Wolk. “Once we add the additional staff and maintenance, combined with the loss of revenue from a diminished customer base, we would be operating at an annual loss.”
In addition to performing the laboratory testing, state lab personnel also served as toxicology resources and as expert witnesses in trial proceedings. Dr. Wolk said, “Although we are ceasing our toxicology testing, we are evaluating our role as toxicology experts and will continue to provide general expertise in this area. We also will continue in our regulatory role, certifying toxicology lab services statewide. We will identify potential resources for communities for whom this decision may create a hardship.”
All other services provided by the state lab will continue. Those services include the following:
- screening for newborn illnesses
- breath alcohol testing for law enforcement
- bioterrorism surveillance
- zoonotic disease testing (plague, rabies, West Nile virus, hantavirus, avian flu)
- human disease testing (foodborne illnesses, TB, sexually transmitted diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases)
- radiochemical and radiation testing
- water and air testing
- milk testing