The Role of the Clinical Laboratory in the Current Opioid Epidemic


Opioid medication abuse and misuse is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. The clinical laboratory plays a vital role as the healthcare system in the United States deals with the current opioid epidemic. This lecture is intended to help medical laboratory scientists gain a basic understanding of clinical uses of opioid medications, the short- and long-term effects of opioid use, and the different scenarios for performance of opioid testing for patients. In addition, this lecture covers laboratory testing methods for opioids and includes clinical cases to illustrate how test results can be combined with clinical information to determine individual drug use patterns in order to help build physician-patient relationships.

Originally presented on June 18, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lecture Presenter

Skyler J. Simpson, MD

Skyler J. Simpson, MD

Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Resident
University of Utah School of Medicine

Dr. Skyler Simpson grew up in the Seattle area and attended Seattle Pacific University where he earned a BS in Biochemistry. He then completed his MD at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson.


After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Explain what opioid medications are and their clinical uses
  • List the potential short- and long-term consequences of opioid use
  • Discuss the different laboratory tests for opioids and their uses

Sponsored by:

University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, and ARUP Laboratories