Revised equations allowing the estimation of the uncertainty associated with the Total Body Water version of the Widmark equation

Peter D. Maskell*, Ann-Sophie Korb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Widmark calculations are the most commonly used alcohol calculations to estimate a) the amount of alcohol consumed based on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and b) BACs at a set time after consumption of a known amount of alcohol. These calculations are vital in forensic casework. Previous work has demonstrated that using general error propagation-based equations the variability associated with alcohol calculations can be estimated, but these equations have only been determined for the volume of distribution version of the Widmark equation. However, recent investigations have shown that the total body water (TBW) version of the Widmark equation is more reliable than the version that utilizes the apparent volume of distribution of ethanol. To date, there is no general error propagation equation to determine the variability associated the TBW version of the Widmark equation. Using previously published studies of 185 individuals in which alcohol elimination rate (β) and ethanol's volume of distribution were determined, we have shown that there is a negative correlation (−0.247) between the alcohol elimination rate (β) and TBW. Using these data, we were able to produce equations allowing the estimation of the variability of the results calculated using the TBW version of the Widmark equation. This will allow forensic practitioners to give the best determination of the variability associated with Widmark calculations currently possible.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES
Early online date17 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • alcohol calculations
  • alcohol elimination rate
  • blood alcohol
  • total body water
  • variability
  • Widmark

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