New research will look at how blood is stored after death, after concerns were raised that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning deaths are being under reported.
The Gas Safety Trust (GST) is working with the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland to look at the effect various blood storage methods have on carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) levels.
Under reporting of CO deaths
It is thought that storage methods could lead to lower levels of COHb being found, leading to under diagnosis.
A 2011 All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group report recommended that “the Government should ensure all coroners’ post-mortems routinely test for COHb levels”.
The report also acknowledged the difficulty for coroners in recognising CO as a possible cause of death.
Coroners are in a unique position to identify the circumstances leading to a CO fatality, including the source of CO, where it is located, and the behaviour of those involved.
The effects of storage
Every year in the UK, over 200 people go to hospital with suspected CO poisoning, which leads to around 40 deaths.
Currently, detecting the presence of CO in the blood is done by measuring levels of COHb. This research will look at levels of CO and COHb, and assess whether storage has an effect on the measurements.
GST Chair Chris Bielby says getting to the true number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide will better inform government and industry about the scale of the problem.
Source: Gas Safety Trust
Date Published: April 26, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown