View Full Version : Etoh?

10-25-2002, 10:02 PM
Hi all, a quick question. Does anyone use the term "Odor of ETOH" in their charting? Was just wondering. I got a report back tonight that the person that QA'd it scoleded me for using that term. I have used it for over 20 years. They stated that a Lawyer would "rip" me apart on the stand using it. I had to remind them that I have been on the stand at least 20 times and had the term ETOH on every chart and have never been questioned once about it. I just thought I would see how all you are documenting the smell of booze.


10-25-2002, 10:13 PM
I use that term in my reports. Did your QA give you a reason why not? It could be that you and your service does such a good job with your reports that thats all he/she could complain about. :D What else could one put down? You can't say the pt is drunk. Interesting.

10-26-2002, 12:25 AM
I stick that saving word in... "possible" but I do use ETOH for anything to do with alcohol. It's just our way of abreviating it. No lawyer can realy attack your use of an abreviation because it seems to me to be a generaly recognized term, wether it's in the text book or not most EMTs I know use it in this context. How can one lawyer argue with most every EMT in the US?

10-26-2002, 08:44 AM
ahh the good ole ETOH question.....I was told when I started working here that we are to chart the "possible oder of ETOH about his person". We run with volunteers here and one of them is a lawyer. He informed us that this was the best way to chart it. Maybe just his thoughts though! I think a Lawyer could pick apart anything you chart, right down to how you sign your name!

You know what they call 10,000 Lawyers at the bottom of the ocean dont you??

A good start!! Hope I didnt offend anyone in saying that!!

10-26-2002, 09:04 AM
Yep, that is what I always chart "Possible odor of ETOH noted" My report came back and said that ETOH has no odor, I should write "possible odor of alcoholic beverage" I work for probably the most anal place in the US. The only time I would worry about a lawyer picking me apart anyway is if I am the defendent, other than that, I don't really care what a lawyer has to say. My job it to make the patient as comfortable as possible till difinitive care! I just don't understand why everyone gets so worked up about this stuff


10-26-2002, 07:06 PM
ETOH = Ethanol Alcohol; The kind you drink. An odor of ETOH would mean that the person in question smells like they had a few. You should always note that. If you don't chart it; it never happened. If the person @ the scene of an MVA wants to sign off; and it was the driver; note the possibility of "ETOH on board" for PSP and have the person (In pa anyway) sign a refusal form, and the trip sheet. Have a Police officer be the witness signature. Save someone elses life by getting the person off the road.

10-26-2002, 09:06 PM
If I smell the familiar odor of booze on my patients clothes or breath I always ask if they have had anything to drink thiat evening and document it. Usually get "Only a couple of beers" in which case there must be formula out there to use to get to the true number drinks. :cool:

I have found that most of the people are honest about answering you if you are out of earshot from the friendly police officer. It is part of our assessment even though we know what the truth is. IF they answer in the negative, then I do not believe that there is anything wrong with writing that there was an odor of alcohol on their breath / clothing. If you get called on the carpet by the friendly dirtbag lawyer I would like to be able to believe that I could defend the statement with my personal experience. If not, one could always ask the defense attorney to allow himself to have a little booze poured on them and then allow the jury to enjoy the aromatic fragrances and describe to them that this is the odor you observed.

10-26-2002, 09:15 PM
We have our medics use "possible etoh" or something that does not make a definite statement, but leaves room for error.

I have used the term myself for a long time, and yes a good lawyer will chew you up in court if you make a statement that "casts judgement on my client without the use of any testing mechanisim", as I was once told. And I bet you can guess who told me that.


10-26-2002, 09:23 PM
Another QA'er whose a litigation conspiracy theorist. I mostly use ETOH odor about him/her. Fact is a lawyer will try to rip you about anything you right so should we stop filling out PCR's? We are suppose to be clinicians, and as a clinician I know what alcohol smells like. Just like I know what a GI bleed smells like or what blood looks like compared to say ketchup or taco sauce. Fact is many police officers use odor whether it be alcohol or another substance to dig a little further or to administer a field sobriety test or alkasensor. Not to mention the fact that any decent lawyer you may have will rather quickly on redirect or when questioning (leading :D) you will whip out the lab results that they will subpeona showing the blood alcohol level. Not to mention that if you write something in good faith and don't add personal comments to be pinned with libel its not that big of a deal. I'd like to know where it has been shown or written that a lawyer will rip you for writing ETOH odor...OR IS IT JUST ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE EMS "I HEARD A PERSON SAY OR I WAS TAUGHT" MYTHS? That is one of the biggest problems with ems and/or fire today are those type of instances.
IACOJ Bureau of EMS Chairman

10-26-2002, 09:39 PM
smurfe wrote:

Yep, that is what I always chart "Possible odor of ETOH noted" My report came back and said that ETOH has no odor,

ETOH does in fact have an odor. I work with 99% ETOH in my full time job and can most certainly smell it. In fact, why would diabetics in ketoacidosis be described as having an odor of ETOH on their breath if ETOH has no odor?
I too have used the phrase "Possible odor of ETOH on person and clothing." No one has corrected me for using the phrase. I would say that they were having a rough day or someone deficated in their Wheaties and you got the fallout.

10-27-2002, 08:10 AM
"Pt smells of possible ETOH. Pt states he has had 'a couple beers' (or "I have not had anything)".

That's about all I write. I don't want to get to specific. It's nice to know that when you get to ER, but no sense hanging yourself by elaborating much further come litigation time.

10-27-2002, 04:41 PM
Well go figure, I sent in 5 reports Friday night with the term "Odor of ETOH" and didn't get a one back. Guess they got the point :p


10-27-2002, 09:20 PM
I have been to several medical/legal lectures given by a Lawyer who happens to be the Commonwealths Attorney for the next county over as well as a former Nurse/Paramedic.

The topic of ETOH and Call reports inevitably comes up, his reply is always the same. "Pt had the smell of ETOH about their person".

That advice was given by the ONLY lawyer I would ever want to defend me and the LAST one I'd want against me, so I feel 100% safe with using it.

I also agree with IAMedic - if the Pt tells you they drank so & so - then you are perfectly fine in recording it.

10-27-2002, 10:21 PM
I use that terms as well, also to avoid that I usually just ask the person and chart that as then it is not speculation. Also I have heard of the phrase " Odor of partially undigested alcoholic beverage", but that a nurse sayin that ....... :D