Lack of observable intoxication in humans with high plasma alcohol concentrations.J Forensic Sci. 1987 Nov; 32(6):1660-5.JF
Judging the degree of human alcohol intoxication is an important clinical, social, and medicolegal matter. Assessing the degree of intoxication is not always easy by direct patient observation. Observational instruments have been used in forensic science, medical, and social situations in an endeavor to measure alcohol intoxication. The validity of these observational instruments must be questioned. In this study, twenty-one patients with alcohol related complaints presenting to major city emergency departments were studied using one such observational instrument, the Alcohol Symptom Checklist (ASC). Three independent emergency medicine physicians applied the criteria of ASC to the twenty-one patients and obtained a plasma alcohol concentration (PAC) for correlation purposes. Individual correlation coefficients (r = 0.182, r = 0.202, r = 0.200) and a composite correlation coefficient (r = 0.235) demonstrated lack of correlation between PAC and ASC. This lack of correlation is supported by clinical observations of experienced emergency department personnel.