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June 21, 2019
A vendor that manufactures vials used to collect blood from suspected drunk drivers
has recalled thousands of items due to an error that could change the results of blood
alcohol analysis.
BD’s recall statement involves a lot of about 240,000 vials. The company believes only
about 100 of the tubes were improperly manufactured, however, distribution of the lot
began in August 2018 and the entire lot is being recalled.
The Houston Forensic Science Center had 6,000 vials from the recalled lot. Since January
1, HFSC has distributed 5,200 vials from that lot to the Houston Police Department and
about 3,400 have already been used. Most cases include at least two vials.
BD’s recall statement says the manufacturer failed to include a crucial preservative in
some vials. The preservative, which is a powder, prevents the blood from clotting and
the blood alcohol concentration from changing.
Staff trained to draw blood are supposed to check blood vials before use to ensure the
powder is present. However, once the blood is in the vial it is impossible to know
whether the preservative was in the tube.
HFSC has notified the Harris County District Attorney’s Office of the issue.
“This is a critical problem that will not only require HFSC, HCDAO and HPD to review
and disclose information on 1,700 cases dating back to the beginning of the year, it
creates a problem for crime labs across the state and the nation since BD is the primary
provider of these blood vials,” said Dr. Peter Stout, HFSC’s CEO and president.
“HFSC has an obligation to share this information with all stakeholders to ensure
prosecutors, defendants and all others in the justice system have the information
needed to move forward.”
HFSC is a local government corporation that provides forensic services to the City of
Houston and other local agencies. HFSC is overseen by a Board of Directors appointed
by the Mayor of Houston and confirmed by the Houston City Council. Its management
structure is designed to be responsive to a 2009 recommendation by the National
Academy of Sciences that called for crime laboratories to be independent of law
enforcement and prosecutorial branches of government.
HFSC operates in seven forensic disciplines.
Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Director of Communications/PIO


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