Monday, November 23, 2009

What's a qualified vampire, er, technician?

Section 724.017 of the Texas Transportation Code governs the admissibility of evidentiary blood samples in DWI cases. The codes says:
(a) Only a physician, qualified technician, chemist, registered professional nurse or licensed vocational nurse may take a blood specimen at the request or order of a peace officer under this chapter. The blood specimen must be taken in a sanitary place...

(c) In this section, "qualified technician" does not include emergency medical services personnel.
The State of Texas does not oversee the regulation of lab technicians, but most labs require certification from associations such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

To earn certification from ASCP as a medical laboratory technician, a candidate must meet the following requirements:

1) Have an associate degree or at least 60 semester hours of academic credit from an accredited school.

plus

2a) Complete a NAACLS accredited program within the last five (5) years; or

2b) Have 6 semester hours of chemistry or 6 semester hours of biology and CLA certification; or

2c) Have 6 semester hours of chemistry or 6 semester hours of biology and completion of a fifty (50) week U.S. military medical laboratory training course with official notarized documentation; or

2d) Have 6 semester hours of chemistry or 6 semester hours of biology and three (3) years of full time clinical laboratory experience in Blood Banking, Chemistry, Hematology, Microbiology, Immunology, and Clinical Microscopy in the U.S., Canada, or CAP/The Joint Commission accredited laboratory within the last ten (10) years.

Satisfying one of the 1) plus of one of the 2a-2d allows you to sit for the MLT (ASCP) exam.

Exam: Pass the ASCP’s Board of Registry’s examination for Medical Laboratory Technician

The Texas Department of State Health Services regulates the licensing of emergency medical services personnel. In order to become a licensed EMT, a candidate must meet the following requirements:
(1) At least 18 years old
(2) Complete high school or GED certificate (Texas Education Agency approved or out-of-state equivalent)
(3) Successful completion of a DSHS approved EMS training course
(4) Submit EMS Personnel Certification Application and fee
(5) Pass National Registry exam
(6) To gain paramedic licensure status, you are required to follow the steps above and submit proof of either a two-year EMS degree or a four-year degree in any field.
(1) 14 hours of classroom lecture,
(2) Articles on drawing blood,
(3) Basic phlebotomy test, and
(4) 50 blood draws at a hospital.
If the statute says that a licensed EMT is not qualified to draw blood, then police officers who are provided minimal training and who do not meet the minimum training and education requirements to obtain a medical lab tech certification surely can't be considered qualified enough to conduct forced evidentiary blood draws.

And we haven't even touched on the issue of what qualifies as a sanitary place.

1 comment:

Justin said...

Great post. Very detailed.

It really makes me wonder not so much from the infection related aspect which no doubt is very important, but really from a forensic science aspect as to the sufficiency of only doing 50 draws. Are they live sticks or simulated? Phlebotomy is not easy. Even the most practiced among the true venipuncturists still struggle to remain proficient. There are large issues of hemocentration and also adequate and proper site preparation as well as after collection specimen handling that quite frankly even a very intense 14 hours of classroom study would never be able to adequately address.


-Justin J. McShane, Esquire, PA DUI Attorney