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To the Editor:—
The article by Friedemann and Dubowski in The Journal, May 2, page 47, dealing with certain aspects of blood alcohol level determinations and alcoholic intoxication is excellent. Certain of the comments, however, deserve further critical evaluation. They imply that ethanol, isopropanol, and certain other volatile skin cleansers have a negligible effect on the alcohol content of blood drawn with their use. This is somewhat contrary to my observations. If the skin is allowed to dry thoroughly, it is obvious that no contamination can occur. A problem arises as to when the skin is thoroughly dried, before removing a blood specimen for analysis.I have repeatedly observed that ethanol and isopropanol, used in their usual cleansing concentrations, under ordinary laboratory conditions prior to the removal of blood, will occasionally cause a marked contamination of the specimen, introducing a positive error of as much as 200 mg. of ethanol
Beeman J. DETERMINATION OF ETHYL ALCOHOL LEVELS. JAMA. 1959;170(9):1108–1109. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010090098025
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