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Drug Research

In treating overdose patients, emergency rooms face challenge in detecting mix of drugs

In treating overdose patients, emergency rooms face challenge in detecting mix of drugs

Patients who wind up in emergency rooms because of drug use have far more types of drugs in their systems than the standard screening test used by hospitals is catching, a new study has found.

While the drug epidemic has focused on opioid use, two-thirds of patients who ended up at two University of Maryland Medical System emergency rooms in 2016 had multiple drugs in their systems — up to six were found in some urine samples.

Emergency rooms tend to use a basic urine test that, like a pregnancy test, turns colors when it detects certain chemicals in drugs. The test is quick and inexpensive, but detects fewer than a dozen drugs, including opioids. The tests don’t detect...

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