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Make sure you check out the post about our DUI Medical Defense Screening Tool.

Last week’s post held a work of fiction will bring a smile of recognition to anyone involved in the sometimes gritty business of DUI prosecution; I hope that it was at least somewhat entertaining and not too far from the mark.  But its purpose is not merely to entertain as much as it is to provide a basis for what follows: a systematic analysis of factors involved in medically acceptable procedures in phlebotomy through pointing out how it can (and does) go wrong.

In our fictional story, the phlebotomist – I’ll call her Suzy Q – sets herself up for failure by failing to properly prepare her equipment.  She manages to appear at the work site with only alcohol swabs – a source of known contamination in blood alcohol assay samples and a heyday for any defense attorney.  The truth is that there are no standards for antibacterial skin surface decontamination and venipuncture. It is often the case that the administrative authorities responsible for medical oversight simply depend on mid-level managers to decide what does and doesn’t constitute the proper solutions and application methods for any given instance requiring phlebotomy; the circumstances surrounding a DUI arrest are no exception.   And within certain limits, the driving force involved in deciding just what materials to employ is an economic one. 

Hospitals and clinics typically employ such agents as povidone iodine, benzalkonium chloride, Chlorhexidine, Hexachlorophene, and Triclosan.  Guess what factor decides which of these wonderful antiseptics gets to sit on the shelves of any particular facility?  Yes – you guessed it – money.  Depending on the vagaries of shelf life, bulk purchasing and corporate logistic support contracts, one could find any single agent or combination of these agents within a given facility involved in the process of phlebotomy for legal blood alcohol determination.   Given the fact that many of these facilities provide services to the general medical community as well as the law enforcement community, it is no wonder that inadvertent mixing of swabs with different antiseptic agents could occur and must be constantly guarded against in view if the attendant legal implications. 

This month’s criminal topic is DUI Blood Draws. Topics covered are:

  • Why “Medically Approved” is important (9/5/14)
  • Case Scenario  (8/12/14)
  • A review of the issues relating to prep (8/19/14)
  • Legal Implications (8/26/14)

Note: To see all posts in this topic, click here

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