A national manufacturer of vials used to collect blood samples, such as for suspected drunk drivers, has issued a recall for a type of vial manufactured since August 2018, and local defense attorneys believe it could force a re-examining of multiple county cases.
“We have probably 170 open DWI cases spread out,” said Jonathan Zendeh Del, a Galveston-based defense attorney. “We’re going to have to review them all. The problem is that the Texas Department of Public Safety never documents the lot number on the tubes, so we’ll have to get a judge to order DPS to turn over evidence on how they ran the blood test.”
New Jersey-based Becton, Dickinson and Company on Friday announced the voluntary recall of one lot of fluoride tubes for blood alcohol determinations, citing a manufacturing issue that could potentially lead to falsely low or high results if the sample was stored too long, according to a letter released by the company.
Company officials on Friday told The Daily News the issue is limited to only about 300 tubes, and that they already have recovered 199 of them, but Zendeh Del disagreed about the scope of the problem.
“They have identified a lot containing 27,000 tubes that have a defect and, without visually inspecting each of those tubes, they say the tubes aren’t affected?” Zendeh Del said. “I don’t buy it. A careful review needs to be performed on every case.”
While the company argues the problem is limited to the 300 tubes, officials did recall the whole lot, said Troy Kirkpatrick, senior director of public relations for the vial manufacturer.
Representatives for the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office said Friday they were waiting for more information before deciding how to proceed.
“We have been notified about it, and are in communication with the manufacturer and the DPS crime lab to see if any Texas cases are affected,” First Assistant Criminal District Attorney Kevin Petroff said.
In neighboring Harris County, the local forensic science center on Friday announced the lot could be as large as 240,000 vials and that the center had about 6,000 vials, officials said.
“This is a critical problem that will not only require the forensic center, Harris County District Attorney’s Office and Houston Police Department 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 nation since BD is the primary provider of these blood vials,” said Peter South, the center’s CEO and president.
The manufacturer recalled the tubes because they lacked additives, which could cause artificially high or low results, Zendeh Del said.