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What are Anticoagulants and How do They Relate to Blood Tests?

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What are Anticoagulants and How do They Relate to Blood Tests?

Hi I’m attorney, Kevin Hayslett, and I’m here with Forensic Toxicologist, Ron Bell. Ron, one of the questions is: when law enforcement does a blood draw due to a DUI investigation and if the tubes that they use do not contain that anticoagulant that you talked about it, will that result in an accurate blood concentration level of the person they collected from?

RB:    No, it will not. If a blood sample is collected into a tube that does not contain an anticoagulant, the blood will clot. The end result is no longer a blood sample, but a serum sample along with a clot. So if analysis is performed to determine the alcohol concentration of that sample, what is actually being done is a measurement of the serum alcohol concentration and not the whole blood alcohol concentration. The significance of that is the serum alcohol concentration exceeds that of the whole blood alcohol concentration. As a general rule of thumb, serum exceeds the whole blood by about 20%.

KH:    So if there is a blood draw that has been done because someone was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and they got a test result and that test result is from a collection that did not have an anticoagulant, that person’s real blood alcohol level would be about 20% less than what was reported? 

RB:    That is correct. As a rough rule of thumb is about 20% less.

KH:    So it is really important to find out when taking a look at DUI cases involving blood draws whether or not an anticoagulant was used in the collection process? 

RB:    That is correct. It is also the responsibility of the analyst to make observations as to whether the sample is clotted or not. In a clotted sample, even if the analysis is performed, that observation should be noted on the report so one can allow some room for proper interpretation of that result.
 

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J. Kevin Hayslett

Kevin Hayslett, Esq.

J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.