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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Valerie L. Ng, PhD MD(Alameda County Medical Center/Highland Hospital)
Description: For such a seemingly small book, this is a surprisingly comprehensive treatise on drugs of abuse testing.
Purpose: It is intended as a complete guide to all aspects of drugs of abuse testing, a worthy objective, as positive results from this category of testing are often the most contentious of all clinical laboratory results.
Audience: The targeted audience includes any healthcare providers or administrators involved with testing for drugs of abuse. The interested audience, however, is much broader and includes anyone who may have or will undergo pre- or regular post-employment screening as well as a broad range of healthcare providers (e.g., laboratory directors, pathology and/or laboratory medicine residents in training, medical students, clinical toxicology fellows, clinical pharmacists, nurses, healthcare administrators, clinical laboratory scientists in training or practice, etc.). The author is an internationally recognized expert in this area.
Features: This 230-page book is jam-packed with useful information. Dr. Dasgupta has authored a number of books in the area of testing for drugs of abuse, but this one differs in its comprehensive approach. It begins with a historical perspective, followed by pharmacology and genetic aspects of abused drugs, designer drugs, workplace testing (including legal issues), test methodologies, issues unique to performing tests at the point of care, how to "beat" drug testing with various additives or adulterants, alternative dietary sources of drugs of abuse (e.g., poppy seeds, coca leaf tea), medications interfering with testing (prescription versus over-the-counter versus herbal), and testing of other specimens (e.g., hair, sweat) for drugs of abuse. I have five similar books on my bookshelf: two by Dasgupta (Handbook of Drug Monitoring Methods: Therapeutics and Drugs of Abuse (Humana, 2008) and Beating Drug Testing and Defending Positive Results: A Toxicologist's Perspective (Humana, 2010)), one by Wong and Tse (Drugs of Abuse: Body Fluid Testing (Humana, 2005)), one by Wong (Salivary Diagnostics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008)), and one by Jenkins and Goldberger (On-Site Drug Testing (Humana, 2002)). Each of these books covers a slightly different aspect of testing for drugs of abuse. The beauty of A Health Educator's Guide is that all of these aspects are brought together into one comprehensive, concise, and accessible book. The only drawback is that this is a paperback; it won't hold up well to predictable frequent usage. Although I really like this new addition to books on drugs of abuse toxicology tests, I must admit I use and will likely continue to use most frequently the author's other book, Beating Drug Testing and Defending Positive Results. This is perhaps more reflective of my clinical practice — I am frequently asked for causes of "false positive" test results for drugs of abuse — than of the content of the books.
Assessment: This small book has everything you could ever want to know about testing for drugs of abuse. It is a must for laboratories performing such testing.