[Toxicology] Blood Alcohol Concentration-Possible error

RT townsend at runbox.com
Wed Aug 23 15:26:23 EST 2006

As a non-medical professional as well as most naive in this issue I
need some quick professional insight. Thus I submit the following to
those that know. Perhaps some guidance as to what I need to look for to
determine the accuracy of a questionable blood alcohol test result
compared to testimony of others re the amount consumed by the deceased
can be provided. We have not yet determined if the sample was taken
from the chest cavity or abdomen, veins, arteries or elsewhere.

The discussion seems to center on a possible bleed out re Blood alcohol
concentration post death (heart stops). A major artery is severed and
there is a large open gash to the head. The deceased is in contaminated
lake water before being removed. The questions are (1) would the blood
continue to bleed out after the heart has stopped pumping regardless of
location of the wound (2) Does the time in the contaminated water have
any relevance to the BAC test result and (3) would the contaminated
lake water (raw sewage for one of the contaminants) have a tendency to
affect/enhance/dilute the blood concentration, and finally (4) What
subsequent activity/emergency medications (plasma and etc) would/could
enhance the BAC between extraction and testing other than natural
fermentation and coagulation if the blood is properly mixed before the
test is done.

What I have is a matter wherein (accepting the comments of those in and
around the deceased) that his alcohol intake was four (4) or less 12 oz
cans of beer on a hot summer day over a 5-6 hr period. The deceased is
20 years old, 5' 10", 165 lbs. On an average BAC calculator this
works out to a concentration of exactly .002%

The subjects many companions were not tested. The operator was and came
out .000% at a hospital from an artery draw. Accepting the known
ingestion is correct, and then there is difficulty in accepting as
accurate a test result showing .200% reportedly found in the deceased.
On an average BAC calculator this works out to a consumption factor of
12, 12 oz beers over the same time frame, but there would have been
obvious displays and coordination problems such as speech and etc, of
which there were none, again according to companions. I suspect a
transposition of the findings? Is that possible? Doers it happen
frequently? The deceased displayed no known or odd characteristics that
accompany intoxication (again according to companions) at this level.

There was also food of substance ingested during the same time frame.
The blood was extracted at a funeral home, we do not know the
qualifications of the person that did the extraction, method or the
treatment of the vials in which the blood was contained or if a pre
treated kit, coagulation/fermentation. We do not know how the sample
was stored, mixed,  over what period and how handled in transport as
well as how transported. We do not know how many samples were taken and
how many test(s) were made.

We do not know all of the potential water/lake contaminates involved
other than raw sewage. There might be many other contaminants.

As I said earlier, I do not know the location of the extraction from
the deceased. I do not know how or length of time stored before testing
or neither the method of testing nor the qualifications of the
individual that read/calculated the test results. I do not know how the
test was marked or if it could have been mixed with other samples,
improperly ID'd.

How do I then account for the significant difference in what should
have been the BAC and what is reported. An error seems to have been
made, again accepting what the subject's companions tell me is
correct. Considering the professionalism of the companions I have
little reason to question their veracity.

Finally, I am informed a toxicologist will refrain from making back
calculations because of the variables involved. Can you list a few so I
can learn what to look for in the future? Other than the possible
variables why are toxicologist reluctant to "back calculate" BAC

Thank you for your important assistance and please feel free to email
direct to townsend at runbox.com.


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