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New content in AACC’s Principles of Clinical Toxicology certificate program addresses timely topics such as the opioid epidemic and the increasing use of mass spectroscopy for screening and definitively identifying drugs of abuse. Four sessions cover an introduction to clinical toxicology, immunoassays to screen for drugs of abuse, specimens for toxicology testing, and chromatography basics for toxicology testing. This online course—which confers 10 ACCENT credits—offers timely, relevant content developed by highly regarded subject matter experts that participants will be able to use immediately at work.

“The program is aimed at clinical lab scientists who wish to gain a deeper knowledge of clinical toxicology in order to advance their careers or simply to add another specialty to their skill set,” James Ritchie, PhD, DABCC, FACB, told CLN Stat. Ritchie, who teaches the course on chromatography basics, is professor emeritus of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University in Atlanta and chair of the committee that updated the certificate program.

Participants will learn about the basics of toxicology, as well as screening procedures, best practices, and the role of toxicology and diagnosis in treatment decisions. “Though not comprehensive, it does provide a basic understanding of the testing techniques used in the toxicology lab,” added Ritchie. Developed in cooperation with AACC’s Therapeutic Drug Management and Toxicology Division, the updated program includes more case discussions to illustrate new concepts such standard-less compound identification using high-resolution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. “The section on sample types and acquisition has been updated to reflect current toxicology lab practices,” said Ritchie.

Principles of Clinical Toxicology’s four courses include:

1. Introduction to Clinical Toxicology

Jill Warrington, MD, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Vermont in Burlington, and Kamisha Johnson-Davis, PhD, DABCC, medical director of clinical toxicology at the University of Utah/ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City, review basic clinical toxicology principles, identify common acute toxic exposures and associated laboratory findings, and highlight drug overdose findings.

2. Immunoassays to Screen for Drugs of Abuse

Stacy E.F. Melanson, MD, PhD, associate director of clinical laboratories at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and He Sarina Yang, PhD, DABCC, director of the toxicology laboratory at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, explain the principles of common immunoassays for urine drug testing and how to validate an immunoassay that screens for drugs of abuse. Melanson presents many clinical cases to help participants understand how to interpret immunoassay results (for example, interferences, false positives, false negatives, cross-reactivity). “I updated my slides to include newer drugs and techniques and expanded the section on method validation. I also added the section on proficiency testing,” she said.

3. Specimens for Toxicology Testing

Andrea Terrell, PhD, DABCC, owner of Phoenix Laboratories in Indianapolis, describes the basic uses and limitations of specimen types such as urine, blood, hair, oral fluid, sweat, and meconium. She also reviews the conditions for specimen integrity when testing urine samples and discusses hot topics in alternative matrices. Joshua Akin, MAS, MLS, a clinical laboratory scientist at UC San Diego Health System, serves as the reviewer for this session.

4. Chromatography Basics for Toxicology Testing

Ritchie reviews separation technologies and the mathematical theories behind chromatography. He describes the common types of chromatography used in toxicology laboratories and the principles behind gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography. Other topics include considerations for sample preparation and principles for quantitation of a separation. Jaime Noguez, PhD, DABCC, assistant director of chemistry laboratories at Case Western University School of Medicine in Cleveland, is the reviewer for this session.

Laboratory professionals at all levels who conduct toxicology testing, as well as other healthcare professionals with an interest in this specialty, will find practical knowledge and useful insights through this course. Register now and receive 10 ACCENT credits after completing the course.