Ethanol continues to be the most frequently abused intoxicant in the United States.4 Drug testing in various work environments has become commonplace during the past two decades and will at times include blood, breath, or urine alcohol testing.5 While valid reasons for false positive drug tests do occur, a plethora of unusual and dubious explanations have been likewise tendered. Medical Review Officers (MRO) involved in evaluating such reports rely on past case reports, knowledge of laboratory analytical techniques, and other scientific evidence to validate or negate claims of drug use in the workplace. ABHS are now found in most hospitals and health-care facilities.1,3 Only one human report of serum ethanol levels following frequent clinical use of the ABHS has been reported.7 This finding of a negative serum ethanol level in this case is likely to be reproducible in all clinical settings as the physician attempted to simulate the most extreme use of the product that would be consistent with labeling instructions. Since alcohol breathalyzer testing is based upon exhaled portions of ethanol found within the blood stream, this method of testing would likely be negative as well.
Participants will be the investigators and associate investigators of the study, who are all employees in the emergency department at Darnall Army Community Hospital. There will be no financial reward offered. Consent will be obtained on all participants. The study will be performed in the Darnall Emergency Department outside of regular duty hours. Enrolled subjects will apply 5 ml of the product (62% denatured ethanol alcohol manufactured by Kimberley-Clark) to both hands and rub until dry. This will be repeated 50 times over approximately 4 hours. Participants will have their blood drawn prior to, as well as, after completing the study. No other laboratory tests will be performed other than the alcohol level. Pre study blood alcohol levels will be ordered to assure a pre-study level of 0 mg/dl.