Toxicology reports can be tricky to interpret. There are some basic pearls that can help attorneys sort through the details before calling in an expert to shed some light on what the results mean (or don’t mean). Five minutes of light reading is a start to understanding the basics of toxicology testing.
There are some basic, although not always on-hand, details of a drug or alcohol-related legal case (usually related to impairment), that can answer questions related to the case sooner than later. Thank you to those attorneys who have contacted me about their interesting cases and prompted me to put this checklist of facts-to-have on drug and alcohol-related cases together. This list is not all-inclusive, of course, but helps get the conversation started with your toxicology expert about the viability of a case.
There are common questions that I get from attorneys, either about cases in real-time or following CLE talks I give about toxicology, on the topic of drug and alcohol levels. These insightful questions inspired me to put together the top 10 myths about drug and alcohol levels.
Davis and colleagues analyzed exposures to laundry and dishwasher detergents in two forms, packet and non-packet, in children under 6 years of age. (Pediatrics,May 2016) They identified 62,254 cases (in 2013 and 2014) reported to U.S. poison control centers of children under 6 exposed to these products via skin, eye, or ingestion . Nearly 60% of these detergent exposures were from packets and the study authors noted an increase specifically in laundry packet exposures over the course of the study. Not unexpectedly, children under 3 years of age made up the majority of the patients in this study (86%). Researchers found that there was not a significant difference in the odds of having serious medical outcomes or hospitalization between children exposed to dishwasher detergent packets and dishwasher non-packet products. However, the odds of children exposed to laundry detergent packets containing liquid were at twice the risk of those exposed to laundry packets containing granules of being admitted to a hospital. There were 104 children who were injured severely enough from laundry detergent packets that intubation was required and 2 children died following exposure to these packets. This study further relays safety concerns regarding liquid laundry detergent packets.
Even with the most child-friendly home, there is the risk for children getting into dangerous products. Children watch what we do and quickly learn how to gain access to things in cabinets and on shelves. Keeping detergents and other harmful household products out of reach and locked away are strategies to help keep young children safe from poisons. A third measure is to not have products with serious safety concerns in homes with young children.
I recently spoke to attorneys at the Jenkins Law Library in Philadelphia about some principles of toxicology that can help them when reviewing cases related to drugs and alcohol. This is one of my favorite talks to give attorneys since it is a bread-and-butter toxicology lecture. Thank you to everyone who attended (including my friend and colleague, Jane Miloradovich, PharmD) and for some really great questions!