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Lab Reports

In any drug or alcohol case, a lab test can only tell you one side of the story. The lab will deliver the facts, but they can't present them to you in context, in a way that helps you to understand the case from every angle.

For this reason, the very best labs will add a note of caution and recommend a full and frank analysis of their results. They'll suggest that clinical experts such as Psychiatrists or Psychologists should interview the client, then review the lab data in tandem. This way, social workers, courts or employers will always receive a more considered and appropriate set of recommendations.

Sadly however, this robust approach is far from standard practice. In recent years, certain testing laboratories have crossed the line, drifting into the realms of clinical interpretation. This trend has led to a raft of poor and unsubstantiated advice - and in some high profile cases, spurious and damaging decisions have been reported.

Typically, labs have defended their stance with the caveat that results carry a 10% margin of error. But to our mind, this is a shameful excuse for inadequate research. It means risking the future of one in every 10 individuals tested - a statistic that's wholly unacceptable in our justice system.

At Atkinson Lewis, our clinical experts and lab partners follow strict procedures.

Our approach is to gather together a full body of experts, including lab teams, Social Services and clinical professionals. Together, they'll consider every shred of evidence before making recommendations. And even then, findings are validated by a peer review group comprised of Psychiatrists and Psychologists. No stone is left unturned.

How do Lab Reports affect Expert Witness Statements?

The courts will accept a range of witness statements and reports, and our clinical teams can help you with any of the following:

1. Analysis Report
This report will state the level of consumption that was declared by the client at the point of sample collection. It will then confirm the lab's method of analysis and summarise the results - detailing the level of drugs or alcohol detected, and either confirming or disproving the client's original statement.

2. Clinical Report: Clinical Interpretation of Forensic Analysis
Identifying traces of drugs or alcohol is just the beginning. In most cases, it’s more important to understand how the substance affects the client's behaviour - including their ability to fulfil responsibilites such as caring for themselves, a child or other family member.

In the short term, a Psychiatrist specialising in drug and alcohol misuse can broadly identify risk by reviewing the client's Analysis Report. Ultimately however, the safest course of action is to carry out a full psychiatric evaluation. 

3. Enhanced Clinical Report
With the help of additional information, Psychiatrists can deliver more accurate reports. This may involve looking into the client's police record or simply reviewing medical and psychiatric notes. This process will often highlight symptoms that were previously overlooked, and provide a context for the client’s behaviour.

The Enhanced Clinical Report can often reach the same conclusions as a full Psychiatric Report, without the added time and expense of interviewing the client.

4. Psychiatric Report
This is the most thorough and detailed report available. A Psychiatrist who specialises in drug and alcohol misuse will interview the client and consider all other factors such as mental history, lab results and previous drug or alcohol habits. Their sole aim is to understand the level of risk that the client presents to themselves and the people around them.

Our experts are here to lighten the load. Here are some ways we can help:


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