Sunday, March 10, 2013

DWI Testing: The Dangers of Believing in Machine Results

Just blow, and  Viola!  An "Accurate" Blood Alcohol Concentration

I have a love/hate relationship with a great many things, one of them is computers. When they work, I absolutely adore them but when they malfunction or don't work as I would like (or expect) I have deep hatred for them, maybe even loathe is not too strong a word.

My wife and I frequent the movies at the Ithaca Mall. Conveniently perched on the way to the movie theater entrance is a blood pressure machine. It sits there waiting and beckoning people to come forth and self-test their blood pressure.

Machines, Are they accurate? Should we blindly trust them?
Assumptions Make an "Ass of U and Me"

There is an assumption we give (more like place) upon these public machines, it is this, they will give a somewhat "accurate" reading. So many Questions arise: Will these numbers be highly accurate? How much trust or faith should I place upon the numbers generated? Are they enough for me to warrant scheduling a doctor's visit?

My wife was a bit perturbed and upset on our last movie visit. Her pressure read high, as in you better call the doctor. Here is a woman who is pretty fit so finding these alarming numbers were a surprise. Later on she went to the Doctor to get this checked out (as in confirmed) she found her blood pressure was NOT high, she was fine.

How many clients are surprised by their BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) numbers?

Are these machines always accurate? Of course not. They have ranges of error and rely upon proper procedures to help ensure better results.

Mental and Emotional States Can Affect Results

For a doctor to make a HTN (hypertension) diagnosis (high blood pressure) they need three separate office visits, with three separate pressures showing high numbers. They also take into consideration, white coat hypertension, patients whose pressure is high just based upon seeing (visiting) the doctor.

I have never (did I state never?) had a police officer admit someone was nervous or demonstrated anxiety by being stopped by them. Even those hysterically crying were never characterized as nervous or anxious.

On DWI arrests sometimes nervous/anxious/upset/scared people fail the field sobriety testing miserably because they are nervous/anxious/upset/scared . Balance, coordination, and answering questions are far more difficult if you are in front of a person with a uniform, badge, and gun who is about to arrest you.

Larry Newman
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney at Law