Objective: This study investigates if the routine use of the urine drug screen offers any diagnostic or management benefit in the assessment and treatment of psychiatry patients in a suburban psychiatry emergency service.
Methods: Data was collected retrospectively from consecutive patients 18 years and above, who presented to a large suburban hospital emergency department and had a urine drug screen ordered in the emergency department. A total of 111 patients, (with mean age of participants being 34.9 years, SD 10.2 years, minimum 18 – maximum 62 years, 62.2% (69/111) were male) met the inclusion criteria.
Results: The most common drug group identified was benzodiazepines (59.5%; 66/111), followed by cannabis (40.5%; 45/111). Other drugs were identified at much lower levels, including amphetamines (9.0%; 10/111), opiates (4.5%; 5/111) and methadone (0%; 0/111). For most individuals only one drug was detected (55.9%; 62/111), with equal numbers (18.9%) with either zero or two drugs identified by a urine drug screen. Fewer patients had three drugs on a urine drug screen (5.4%; 6/111) or four (0.9%; 1/111).
Conclusions: Qualitative urine drug screens provide limited additional information compared to history taking and has minimal impact on clinical management decisions in a psychiatry emergency service.