Chennai: Investigation agencies or rehabilitation units in Tamil Nadu don’t have to wait for days for the results on drug tests to arrive. Tests on two millilitres of blood drawn will help doctors at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital find in 20 minutes if the patient has consumed any of the 29 narcotic or psychotropic drugs banned by the government, health minister Ma Subramanian said.

The minister inaugurated the machine that can do these blood tests.

“Until now, we were dependent on urine samples to do these tests,” said hospital dean E Theranirajan. “An illegal substance or drug will show up in a urine test anywhere from a few hours to seven days after its use. Chemical residues from longer-term use can be present in urine up to 90 days after the last drug use. But it takes time for a substance to show in the urine,” he said.

Blood tests, on the other hand, are also a better indicator of recent substance abuse.

“They can be used in an accident case where a DUI is suspected to test for proof of impairment at the time of the incident. Or to test ingredients mixed into a drink in case of a hooch tragedy like the one in Kallakurichi,” Dr Theranirajan said.

The test, however, is more expensive compared to a urine test. “It can cost up to Rs 2,500 for this test in our hospital. Considering we may not do large volumes, we think it may still be affordable,” he said.

Besides this, the health minister inaugurated equipment worth Rs14.5 crore in the hospital. An air pollution gauge to measure dust particles, air pollutants, temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed, besides the air quality index was installed on the RGGH campus as part of the joint research the hospital is doing with IIT-Madras.

  • Published On Jun 30, 2024 at 12:40 PM IST

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