Here is a copy of a letter dated April 26, 2017, in which the Commanding Officer, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, reported three false positive results for methamphetamine at the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory, Great Lakes (NDSL-GL):

On 13 April 2017. NDSL-GL discovered a specimen was incorrectly reported positive for methamphetamine on 11 April 2017. During confirmatory testing it was determined that the false positive specimen was co-processed with a batch rejected due to cross-contamination generated from a specimen that contained a very high methamphetamine concentration. As a result. a retest was conducted that revealed no evidence of methamphetamine in the service member’s urine. The positive report was withdrawn and the submitting command notified of the error.

Sadly, this wasn’t an isolated problem. An investigation revealed:

two additional contaminated specimens were identified: one was not reported as positive due to a subsequent negative intermediate screening result, and the second was reported on 7 June 2016 for an Army Reserve member. The reported result was discovered on 22 April 2017. The positive report was withdrawn and the submitting command and the Army Drug Testing Program Office were notified of the false positive report. The Service Member had not yet been separated.

5 Responses to “Multiple false positives reported by Navy Drug Screening Laboratory, Great Lakes”

  1. DCGoneGalt says:

    I guess this means defense counsel get to add extra emphasis to the words “but it IS possible” during cross of toxicologists when suggesting that the mysteries of quantum physics or a drug-planting leprechaun led to a positive test.
    Ex:  You’ve not seen a leprechaun plant THC in urine but it IS possible they do plant THC in urine, isn’t it?

  2. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    It’s a two-way street.  Errors can occur, that is true, but they are rare.  Nonetheless, we double check everything just in case.  Here is an example of our robust and transparent error-detection system.  When these rare errors do occur, we notify everyone and review everything to ensure retraction of all potential false positive reports, and also do our best to ensure such errors either do not occur or are discovered as soon as possible.
    Ultimately, it’s up to the members, of course.  A credibility determination like any other.
    I would like to hear more about that Army Reserve false positive that was 10 months old before they discovered the error.  I wonder what conversations were going on between that particular soldier, the command, and the drug testing center.  I also wonder what conversations occurred after the error was discovered and revealed.
    Kind regards,

  3. Alfonso Decimo says:

    The best practice is to require corroborating evidence of drug use in support of the urinalysis. I have been out of military justice practice for many years, so I am not sure of the current standard post-Campbell, but I would advocate for this requirement and against the permissive inference. If it’s not the current evidentiary standard, then the trier-of-fact should be persuaded the demarcation of their personal sense of reasonable doubt requires corroboration, due to the fallibility of the testing process.

  4. DCGoneGalt says:

    I have seen a de facto corroboration requirement for enlisted marijuana positive results and for most non-officer positive results.  There are a lot less litigated naked UAs in the last 10 years.  At least the forensic toxicologists made up the work with all the new alcohol-facilitated sexual assault allegations.  
    Conspiracy Theory:  The sexual assault “crisis” is a result of the covert lobbying efforts of the military-psychology-toxicology complex.  Unlikely perhaps, but you say it IS possible?

  5. Bill Cassara says:

    I have been involved for years in a case where an Army physician tested positive for cocaine. After he was convicted, we asked for, and received, a re-test at our own lab.  The lab showed two separate DNA contributions to the urine.  While the case was reversed on other grounds, the Army has refused to investigate, even though their own lab experts say something is obviously wrong. I would proffer that errors happen much more frequently than we are lead to believe.