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Ethanol, Plasma / Serum

Item Value
Test Update Information Ethanol assay changed from the Abbott Axsym method to the Beckman DxC method on 09/20/2012
Approval req'd? No
Available Stat? Yes
Test code ALC
Test group Ethanol
Performed by Parnassus & Mission Bay Chemistry
In House Availability Test available 24 hours per day 7 days per week
Method Enzymatic Rate Method (Beckman DxC800)
Collection Instructions Do NOT disinfect the skin with alcohol when collecting the specimen, nor collect the sample above a running iv. See also entries for Drug Screens.
Container type Gold top preferred, Light Green or Gray top acceptable
Amount to Collect 5 mL blood
Sample type Plasma or serum
Preferred volume Full vacutainer
UCSF Rejection Criteria Partially filled tubes are acceptable only if brought promptly to the laboratory for stat assay.
Processing notes Do not open the tubes until loading the instrument.
Units g/dL
Normal range Negative < 0.005 g/dL
Synonyms Alcohol; Ethyl alcohol; etoh
Stability Run immediately after uncapping tube.
Turn around times STAT 1 hour, Routine 4 hours
Additional information To convert g/dL to mmol/L (SI units) multiply by 217.

See also entries for Drug Screens.

Each 0.10 g/dL of ethanol contributes about 22 mmol/kg to the endogenous osmolality of serum. An osmolar gap (normally < 10) which is greater than explainable by ethanol (or other underlying medical conditions, such as chronic renal failure, diabetic ketoacidosis or underestimation of sodium due to hyperlipidemia) suggests the possibility of ingestion of additional toxins such as methanol or ethylene glycol.

Our assay employing separated serum or plasma gives values 10-35% higher than those used forensically on whole blood. A plasma level of 0.09-0.11 g/dL approximates the whole blood level of ≥ 0.08 g/dL which legally defines intoxication. If there is reason to suspect that the ethanol level may have legal implications, the time of collection, the venipuncture site, the presence and site of any
intravenous infusions, and the name of the phlebotomist should be recorded in the chart and on the requisition.
CPT coding 80320
LOINC code 5643-2
Last Updated 2/9/2017 4:02:47 PM
Entry Number 352
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