It is not fully appreciated that a large percentage of medicolegal autopsies, particularly those in smaller communities, are performed by general physicians. A great deal of criminal and civil litigation revolves around medicolegal autopsies and often around the blood alcohol level found in a body at postmortem examination. General physicians, as well as pathologists, are often called upon to draw blood samples at autopsy for analysis for alcohol. The common practice of both the general physician and the specialist is to take such samples from the blood that pools in the pericardiac sac after the great vessels are severed and the heart is removed. Only occasionally may an examiner draw blood from either the right or left ventricle or auricle before removing the heart. Sometimes a belated decision to test for presence of alcohol may require drawing blood from that which has pooled in one of the pleural cavities during
Gifford H, Turkel HW. DIFFUSION OF ALCOHOL THROUGH STOMACH WALL AFTER DEATHA CAUSE OF ERRONEOUS POSTMORTEM BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS. JAMA. 1956;161(9):866–868. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.62970090007017d
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