Arno Carstens' blood test queried

2013-07-24 16:59
arno carstens
Cape Town - The nurse that took a blood sample from singer Arno Carstens did not follow the correct procedure, his lawyer told the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Milton de la Harpe, for Carstens, who is charged with drunk driving, claimed the blood testing kit procedures taught to nurse Sheila Newman did not match those written in a pamphlet that accompanied the box.

He said this pamphlet recommended that a non-alcoholic antiseptic be used when cleaning the site where the needle would enter the skin.

Newman had testified that she dabbed her patients' arms with cotton wool dipped in clean water, taken from the tap and stored in a bottle.

"We cannot use wet wipes if testing for alcohol because it's going to influence the test," she explained to the court.

De la Harpe said there were other forms of antiseptics available that did not contain alcohol.
"So we don't know the origin of the water, we don't know the origin of the bottle, is that correct?" he asked Newman.

Newman replied: "Your worship, the water is coming from the tap."

Pleaded not guilty

Carstens has pleaded not guilty to a charge of drunk driving, and driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent as the alternative charge.

The legal limit is 0.05 percent.

Newman attended to him after his arrest in central Cape Town in December 2010.

She testified she did not specifically recall him because she took samples from around 65 people during her 18:00 to 06:00 shift.

"However, the behaviour of the accused is estimated by the time on the form. It means the client was co-operative because I took blood one minute after telling him what's going on," she told the court.

Correct procedure

She said it was standard procedure to take a sterile needle from the kit, draw the blood and tilt the tube to make sure it mixed with white powder.

De la Harpe questioned her method of mixing the blood with sodium fluoride, which was there to prevent bacteria from forming.

He said Newman testified to tilting the tube only two or three times, but the testing kit recommended the tube be tilted 10 times.

Newman replied that it was satisfactory as long as there was no powder left in the tube.

"I've been taking blood since 2006, and I've never got a complaint from the lab saying the blood was not mixed well," she said.

Carsten's lawyer said the incorrect procedures he had highlighted showed a huge chance for the blood sample to be contaminated by bacteria or other micro-organisms.

This was backed up by the evidence of witnesses who had not noted any "drunken" behaviour from Carstens.

"Somewhere, either in collection [of the blood] or in the blood being analysed, something went wrong," the lawyer said.

The case was postponed until 2 October.

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