Appropriate management of patients in pain clinics can be complex and sometimes confusing because providers must correctly interpret multiple sources of patient information. The correct interpretation of laboratory results is essential to guide subsequent patient treatment and management; however, laboratory and clinical pictures can appear to be conflicting in cases of substance abuse. Incorrect interpretation of laboratory results can multiply negative impacts on clinical outcomes and may lead to patient harm or death.
This report introduces the complex nature involved in understanding and interpreting urine drug testing (UDT) results in pain patients who are prescribed opioid medications. Laboratory testing examples of UDT results are provided to illustrate the sometimes discordant nature of UDT interpretation. This case study describes one method of approaching cases where laboratory result interpretation in pain clinic patients is essential for medical treatment and management. The case presented in this manuscript illustrates a reconciliation of an opiate positive immunoassay result in a patient who was prescribed only OxyContin and Wellbutrin after traumatic amputations.