More than half of the drug tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics in 2016 showed signs of prescription drug misuse, according to the company's report, "Prescription Drug Misuse in America: Diagnostic Insights into the Growing Drug Epidemic." 

The rate of inconsistency — a measure of inappropriate drug use that may indicate the patient is misusing one or more drugs — was 52 percent in 2016. Quest Diagnostics categorizes test results as "consistent" or "inconsistent" based on the presence of drug metabolites identified through laboratory testing and their alignment with the information provided by the health care provider on the test order. 

"The finding is a stark reminder that — despite government and provider campaigns launched in recent years to educate the public about the perils of prescription drug abuse — inappropriate and potentially dangerous misuse of drugs is still prevalent," the report says. 

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.