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Pee in a cup, go to jail

This is ridiculous.

“I don’t believe in locking people up for dirty urines,” said Bill Fitzgerald, the Chief Probation Officer during an interview in his office with the Trouble Shooters.

He says that he expected a spike in positive test results.

That’s because back in February they stopped doing the drug tests themselves and hired a company that does drug testing called Treatment Associates.

They use a small, thin, rectangular-shaped, one-time-use device that is dipped in the urine.

It’s called a rapid test.

The manufacturer says it’s used as a preliminary test.

If a single line appears in one of the boxes on the face of the device, you are positive for that class of drug, but not necessarily an illegal drug.

“There’s one issue there on my part that the test is more sensitive. So I anticipated we would end up with more people showing up positive for urinalysis. This test is more sensitive than the ones we used previously,” said Fitzgerald.

In fact, it’s sensitive enough that many prescription, and even some over-the counter, drugs will test positive.

Something as common as cold medicine could land a person back in jail.

And knowing all that, the county is still using this single test to determine someone’s future.

Fitzgerald says the probationers have the right to ask for a confirmation test, yet he admits they’re not told they have that option.

So a poorly-designed urinalysis test, whose sensitivity to a broad range of non-illegal drugs causes it to give a large number of false positives, is causing probationers in Bexar County who have done nothing wrong and have been following the rules to get locked up. It’s even worse than that, because there are confirmation tests available to the county at no extra charge, but they’re not being used because hey, who cares? I’ve got to agree with Grits here: Doesn’t that border on willful negligence? There’s a whistleblower lawsuit in the mix as well, and all I can say is I hope he socks it to them. I’m just speechless.

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One Comment

  1. Steve says:

    These devices are regulated by the FDA 510 K regulations and a confirmation test must be done on all positives. Any drug test will provide a positive result for prescription drugs, which is why in our testing a Medical Review Officer is used to confirm all positive lab confirmations and also to comply with confidentiality laws. This is only the tip of the ice burg. You will also find most of the temporary employment agencies use these without confirmation testing which raises the question, How many have denied employment due to these tests? They are also used by Child Protective Services.