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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 132-137

Blood alcohol levels in road traffic accidents: Factors associated and the relationship between history of alcohol consumption and blood alcohol level detection

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Gina Maryann Chandy
Department of Emergency Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore - 632 004, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJCIIS.IJCIIS_45_19

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Introduction: Alcohol consumption contributes to a significant number of road traffic accidents (RTAs), and data regarding the reliability of history and blood alcohol content (BAC) in RTA victims are scant. Methodology: This retrospective study was conducted in the emergency departments (EDs) over 6 weeks. All adult RTAs presenting within 12 h of the incident were included for analysis. Results: The study cohort included 369 RTA patients, with the mean interval before presentation being 3 h (standard deviation: 2.22). Two-wheeler accidents (77.2%) were the predominant mode of injury. Usage of a helmet and seat belt was documented in a meager (6.4% [17/267] and 8.8% [3/34], respectively). A positive history of alcohol consumption was reported by 19.5% of cases (72/369). However, BAC was detectable in 30.1% of cases (111/369), with an alarming 19.78% (73/369) being above the legal limit for driving. Nearly 77.5% (86/111) of those who tested positive for alcohol consumption were driving the vehicle involved. Positive BAC levels showed a significant association with young age (18–39 years), male gender, two-wheeler usage, and between 5 PM and 12 AM. Conclusion: A history of alcohol consumption leading to an RTA is not reliable in the ED. Hence, measuring BAC levels in all RTA patients provides an objective and reliable form of documentation for medico-legal purposes.

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