Laboratory Accreditation in Forensic Toxicology

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The American Board of Forensic Toxicology, Inc. (ABFT) was formed in 1975 to certify forensic toxicologists whose role included the interpretation of drug test results, generally at a Doctoral level.  In the early 1990s, the ABFT was asked to develop a laboratory accreditation program for forensic toxicology laboratories involved in postmortem toxicology and/or human performance testing (including, but not limited to, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) and drug facilitated crime (DFC)).  Those standards were based, in part, on the SOFT/AAFS Toxicology Section Forensic Laboratory Guidelines, the de facto standards that were first published in 1991 and then adopted by mail ballot of the overwhelming majority of the SOFT and AAFS Toxicology Section membership.  The current ABFT Standards were adopted in 2013, having been periodically updated since 1996. The first laboratory accredited by ABFT in 1997 was the State of Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Toxicology Laboratory.  Since 1997, an additional 40 laboratories have been accredited; 36 remain accredited at this time.

Eligibility and Preamble

Laboratories eligible to apply are those performing postmortem toxicology or human performance toxicology, including at least the detection, identification, and quantitation of alcohol and other drugs in biological specimens such as whole blood, urine, and other tissues. Other areas of toxicology are not included (e.g., clinical toxicology, forensic urine drug testing, methadone maintenance testing).

The standards used in this program are based on the report of the joint SOFT/AAFS Forensic Laboratory Guidelines Committee (March 21, 1991, and subsequent revisions) and additional recommendations of the ABFT Accreditation Committee.


After 20 months of the two-year cycle, a letter will be sent to the laboratory inviting application for reaccreditation. The same requirements and procedures apply to reaccreditation as to the laboratory's initial accreditation.

Accreditation Cycle and Fees

A non-refundable fee is required for processing and reviewing the initial application. There will be an additional cost for the on-site inspection of the laboratory. This will cover the cost of the inspection, review of the inspection reports, and follow-up correspondence. After initial accreditation, each laboratory is assessed an annual maintenance fee. That annual fee covers the cost of a biannual mid-cycle review and a biannual inspection.

Laboratory Accreditation Fee Schedule

  • Initial Application Fee: $1,000
  • Initial Inspection Fee: $4,500
  • Annual Accreditation and Maintenance Fee: $4,500

Twelve-Month Review

Approximately ten months after initial accreditation (or the last renewal), the laboratory director will be asked to complete a Mid-Cycle Self-Report (which consists of only the primary checklist section summaries) and send it, together with all relevant Proficiency Test Summaries received since the last onsite inspection and summaries of corrective action, to the ABFT Accreditation Committee chair.

Proficiency Tests

The ABFT accreditation is contingent upon successful performance in the following three programs: CAP Whole Blood Alcohol, CAP Whole Blood Forensic Toxicology (FTC), and the CAP T-series. For both the CAP FTC and T-series programs, laboratories must perform qualitative screening and confirmation tests, as required, on all samples. Quantitative testing must be performed for all analytes which are included in the laboratory’s list of routinely quantitated substances. For the T-series, quantitative testing may be limited to those analytes that the laboratory normally performs on a regular basis, defined as being within the reporting period set by CAP.

General Provisions

  • The right to deny Accreditation is reserved.
  • The period of accreditation is for two years following successful completion of the inspection, dependent on a satisfactory 12- month review of a self-evaluation, proficiency test summaries, and remediation of any areas of non-compliance.
  • Laboratories holding valid Certificate of Accreditation are entitled to state on reports, or in another appropriate manner, that they are “Accredited by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology, Inc.”
  • A list of currently accredited laboratories is maintained on the ABFT website.
  • Certificates may be suspended or revoked for appropriate cause under an elaborate systemof safeguards for the laboratory concerned.
  • Requirements and application procedures for accreditation are subject to revision by the Board. The latest version is available on the ABFT website.
  • Successful applicants are issued a Certificate of Laboratory Accreditation in Forensic Toxicology, and the name of the laboratory is published on the ABFT website and, from time to time, in other publications

The Mission of the ABFT

Forensic toxicology encompasses the measurement of alcohol, drugs and other toxic substances in biological specimens and interpretation of such results in a medicolegal context. The purpose of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology is to establish and enhance voluntary standards for the practice of forensic toxicology and for the examination and recognition of scientists and laboratories providing forensic toxicology services.

The Latest

On February 18, 2014, the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT) and the Forensic Toxicologist Certification Board (FTCB) merged into a single organization.

Due to the increased interest to become certified in forensic toxicology, the ABFT will be offering the Diplomate and Fellow examinations at multiple venues in 2016.