This article reports the assessment of a procedure ("dried blood spot testing"), which has long been used by hospitals to test new-born babies for a host of diseases and genetic issues, to determine whether it could be useful in forensic toxicology examinations.
In dried blood spot (DBS) testing of new-borns, a few drops of blood are taken from the baby's heel, dried on paper, and then tested for the presence of diseases and genetic issues. Research funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) examined dried blood spots for evidence of 28 drugs and metabolites. The goal was to determine whether DBS analysis could produce results comparable to traditional drug analysis and, when combined with mass spectrometry, be sufficiently sensitive for quantification of "drugs of abuse" typically encountered in forensic labs. The research showed that when using a technique called quantitative liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, the results with DBS were comparable to standard drug tests on whole blood. Because such a small sample of blood is required for a successful test, the method is particularly useful when only limited samples are available. This impacts the judicial system by allowing for toxicological analysis from samples that might otherwise go untested. In addition, because the DBS samples are small, they are easy to store. This is particularly beneficial for labs that must test and maintain large numbers of samples.