Thursday, January 30, 2014

Random memory

I had a conversation recently with my daughter-in-law, Joy.  We ate at Leo's Diner, ended up talking about drug testing.  How did we ever get on that subject?  Anyway, the lunch hour was over, we lingered over another cup of coffee.  The waitress heard us talking and made a few contributions of her own.
Working for Corrections, I learned more about drug testing than I ever wanted to know.  ( One year, in a misguided fit of enthusiasm, I actually toured the drug testing facility we were using at the time.  I was on the West Coast visiting my sister.  She worked for the welfare department in California.  They were considering requiring drug testing for recipients of various types of welfare so we both had a professional interest in the subject. )  Anyway, DOC provided periodic training sessions from the lab doing our testing.  Their science staff would come talk to us about recent developments and answer our questions.
During one session, the scientist running the training session said that there were certain very limited legal uses for cocaine in medical procedures.  Of course, the government strictly controlled acquisition of the drug for any purpose. But I learned that it is used in certain microsurgeries because it causes blood vessels to constrict so that bleeding is much more easily controlled.  I never heard of this before.
Several years later, I did a hearing on a prisoner charged with substance abuse.  Urine tests showed cocaine and morphine in his system.  He had been out to hospital for surgery, repair of a deviated septum.  The prisoner denied using anything not administered by the hospital.  The prisoner had script for morphine, but he could not explain the cocaine.  Well, repair of a deviated septum, part of the nose, face, is one of those microsurgeries that qualifies for use of cocaine since the site of surgery is small, and the location in the head is delicate.  So I actually contacted the hospital in order to confirm that cocaine might have been used in the prisoner's surgery.  The doctor confirmed that this surgery is one for which cocaine is regularly used.
I found the prisoner not guilty.  A very unusual hearing.