Rapid quantitative determination of blood alcohol concentration in the emergency department using an electrochemical method

Paul M. Wax, Robert S. Hoffman, Lewis R. Goldfrank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Study objective: To determine the reliability of a recently developed electrochemical meter to rapidly (within 60 seconds) measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the emergency department. Design: A prospective study comparing the meter data with that of immunoassay and gas chromatography criterion standards undertaken during a ten-week period. Setting: Adult ED of a municipal hospital. Participants: Three hundred eighty-three consecutive patients with altered mental status or suspected alcohol intoxication. Interventions: Each patient underwent routine phlebotomy, and blood samples were obtained for meter and immunoassay BAC determinations. The first 60% of patients also underwent gas chromatography BAC determination. Results: Two hundred nineteen patients (60%) had BAC detectable by both meter and immunoassay. BAC measurement by the meter correlated strongly with immunoassay and gas chromatography determinations (Pearson's correlation coefficient, r = .94; P < .00000001 for both correlations). Conclusions: The electrochemical meter provides a rapid and reliable BAC measurement in the ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1992



  • blood alcohol concentration
  • testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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