Chain of Custody

Collected specimens and its associated processes may end up as legal evidence in a urine drug-testing program. Therefore, the specimen requires a chain of custody: every individual associated with the handling of evidence, transfer of custody, and/or storage location should be named in the chain-of-custody form (CCF). This serves in assisting triers-of-fact to reconstruct and incorporate the past transactions in legal records. Furthermore, it gives them the right to contact listed witnesses and ask them to elaborate their experiences during handling of evidences in cases where a few phases of the testing are not self-evident. The external CCF – a standard, federal form or approved replica- is presently used as a medium to record the collection process, arrival at the testing laboratory and primary storage location of the specimen at the laboratory. Providing CCF forms with collection containers in compliance to the testing processes, most testing laboratories ensure the proper usage of these forms by the customers.

Internal CCF records the progression taking place in the laboratory. Since laboratory actions may assist in legal proceedings, they are also a subject to chain-of-custody requirements. Currently the laboratories are required to have multi-purpose custody documents which cover all specimen and aliquot and list persons handling the specimen or aliquot, each storage location, and each function vital to the procedure. These vital functions can vary, for example ensuring that the containers are intact with tamper-evident seals, aliquoting specimens for testing and aligning bottle labels with its associated CCF. Each transaction that involves direct contact with a specimen or aliquot must be endorsed and dated by the individual. Record custodians, supposedly the responsible individuals from the laboratory, have the duty to maintain all CCF in secure files for 2 years and beyond the collection date for federal specimens and 3 years for military specimen.

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