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Physician's Guide To
Urine Drug Testing

How to Talk with Patients

Determining how to talk to patients about the benefits of urine drug testing can be more difficult than actually implementing a UDT protocol. While some patients may comply, others may express hesitation, resentment or refuse. The following three sections are presented to help equip primary care and family physicians for meaningful conversations with their patients on prescription opioids to manage chronic pain.

"You use the urine drug test to increase education and increase communication with your patient."
  Howard A. Heit, MD, FACP, FASAM
Assistant Clinical Professor
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Arlington, VA

Introducing the Patient to UDT

  • Start the conversation early about the benefits of UDT.
  • Explain what UDT is and how often it is required.
  • Ensure agreement with the treatment plan. A formal, written agreement can help standardize the process and alleviate patient concerns of being singled out.
  • Express to the patient that a treatment agreement is a standard of care.
  • Use the appointment time to answer the patient’s questions and concerns.

Working with the Hesitant Patient

  • Express that UDT is an important part of the patient’s care.
  • UDT is a regular part of patient care to ensure treatment adherence and effectiveness.
  • If the patient refuses UDT explain that is his or her right—but it may affect the treatment options you can provide.

Unexpected Results

  • An abnormal test result is not always indicative of drug abuse.
  • If drug abuse is suspected, a referral to an addiction specialist can be considered.

Important Clinical Report for Physicians

Click here to obtain a copy of the report, Clinical Best Practices for Urine Drug Testing in Chronic Pain Patients. Read selected patient scenarios, talking points, key considerations, and FAQs.

Last updated on: August 20, 2013
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