Chain of Custody Urine Drug Screen Collection Guide


This procedure provides specific instruction on collecting a legal chain-of-custody urine specimen that can be tested for drugs of abuse.

Items required for each collection

  • Non-sterile urine specimen container with temperature strip
  • Legal Chain of Custody Form
  • Specimen Bag
  • Exam Gloves
  • Ball-point pen (for use on multi-part form)

Procedure in Detail

  1. Call the person to be tested (candidate) back to a private area to initiate the Chain of Custody collection.
  2. Verify the person's identity by government issued photo ID or by an employer representative.
  3. Label the specimen cup and ask the candidate to view and verify the name on the cup - or have them fill out the label if one is provided and you verify it against the ID.
  4. Ask the candidate to remove any excess or bulky clothing (jacket/coat/hats, etc.)
  5. Ask the candidate to wash their hands with soap and water then dry them thoroughly.  The collector must observe this process directly.
  6. Instruct the candidate not to run any water until the specimen collection is completed and the specimen has been passed to the collector.  DO NOT FLUSH TOILET.  DO NOT WASH HANDS.
  7. Provide the cup to the candidate and instruct him/her to collect the specimen.  The collector must stand immedately outside the door to listen for any unusual activity.  IF unusual activity is detected (rustling paper or plastic, bag type material) immediately stop the drug screen process.  Document the problem on the Chain of Custody and notify the party that requested the drug screen.
    A person of the same sex can directly observe the collection.  If requested, the laboratory can provide a person to be the observer.
  8. Once the specimen is collected, the collector should put on the gloves accept the container from the candidate and securely close the lid in the candidate's presence.  Give the seal to the candidate and have them place it over the cup and initial the seal.  Or, apply the label to the specimen container after having the seal verified.
  9. The collector must then read the temperature from the cup.  This step must be completed within 2 minutes of collection.  The temperature must read between 90.5 and 99.8 f (32.5 - 37.7 C)
  10. Document the temperature on the Chain of Custody and complete the rest of the form.
  11. Have the candidate read and sign the form.
  12. The collector must sign at the bottom of the Chain of Custody under "LABORATORY USE ONLY" under "SPECIMEN RECEIVED BY" as this initiates the actual Chain of Custody.
  13. The candidate must place the specimen into the bag.  The Collector includes the completed requisition and seals the bag in the presence of the patient.
  14. From this point forward, an person taking possession of the specimen must sign the Chain of Custody form.
  15. The candidate may be dismissed at this point.
  16. The specimen should be taken directly to the lab for testing or, placed into a secure storage box for transport.  The specimen(s) must be kept secure until transported to the laboratory and signed over to laboratory personnel.

Additional notes

  • If the collection occurs at a location other than the lab and there are multiple specimens, it is important that a log be kept. The log should include the patient's name, DOB and collection date/time.

  • Do not re-use a specimen cup or Chain of Custody form that was initiated but not completed.

  • Do not fill out a Chain of Custody form out of the presence of the patient.

  • Do not collect multiple drug screens or do multiple Chain of Custody forms at one time.

  • Any unusual findings or circumstances must be documented on the Chain of Custody form on the “Unusual findings/ Comments” line. (ie. Appearance of urine is unusually clear, discolored, etc...)

  • Patient must sign the Chain of Custody form only AFTER the specimen is collected.

Confirmation Testing

  • As per the instructions of the client, the laboratory will send any samples meeting the criteria for confirmation testing. Testing is done via LCMS

  • Chain of Custody still will still be maintained by the laboratory.

Stability, Storage and Transportation

  • Room temperature specimens should be sent as soon as possible or placed in a refrigerator (2-8° C) until able to ship out.
  • General stability for samples are: room temperature recommended only for a couple of hours, refrigerated 7 days, and frozen 2 weeks. However, testing may be hampered due to drug detection time lines.
  • Transportation is via delivery to lab or lab courier service. All specimens (with necessary requisitions and face sheet) will placed in a leak proof transport bag, shipping bag and then placed in a courier shipping box (or according to courier’s instructions)

Delays and Rejections

  • Specimens not properly submitted as above will be delayed for processing until all discrepancies are resolved.

  • ** the laboratory will process a screen test and result at a minimum while waiting for resolutions to discrepancies**

  • Additional testing will be held in the refrigerator/frozen depending on space until the issue is resolved or the specimen will be rejected.

  • Several attempts with regards to resolving issues will be made between the laboratory and the submitting facility.


  • Specimens which need further testing beyond the ability of the laboratory will be   forwarded only to CLIA certified/licensed facilities

  • Specimen referral submission will be followed according to the testing facility guidelines

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