, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 492-495

Q.E.D. Alcohol Test: a simple and quick method to detect ethanol in saliva of patients in emergency departments

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Objective: The aim of this pilot study was to assess whether ethanol concentrations in saliva are comparable to those in blood and to evaluate whether this new non-invasive saliva alcohol test is suitable for use in emergency departments. Design: Prospective, open, non-randomised study. Setting: University hospital emergency department. Patients and methods: 100 consecutive patients who were admitted to the emergency department whose smell and/or behaviour indicated alcohol abuse. Fifteen patients participated as a control group after they were asked to abstain from alcohol consumption for 24 h before the study. Interventions: Blood and saliva samples were obtained at the same time for ethanol measurement. The Q.E.D. Alcohol Test A 350 was used in order to measure the concentration of ethanol in saliva. Blood samples were analysed by the alcohol dehydrogenase method. Results: The mean difference between the ethanol levels in blood and saliva was − 0.1 mg/dl, whereas the values measured in saliva were on average 0.1 mg/dl higher than those measured in blood (p = 0.002). Conclusion: The Q.E.D. Alcohol Test A 350, which uses saliva, is well suited for quantitative determination of alcohol levels. The levels measured in saliva correlate well with those measured in blood at both the lower and the upper end of the scale. Because this test is quick and easy to perform by emergency room personnel and the results are accurate enough for clinical purposes, it should prove valuable to determine whether impaired consciousness is related to alcohol intoxication or to other likely causes.

Received: 26 June 1998 Accepted: 25 February 1999