Don’t get high on your own supply – enflurane edition

Another in our occasional series of articles on the importance of the motto “don’t get high on your own supply”. This edition concerns the case of an anaesthetist who was testing some of his own anaesthetics while driving.

From a case report from Forensic Science International:

A 42-year-old anaesthetist firstly was observed sitting in a parked automobile under a bridge, secondly 100 m further. Both times he was holding a handkerchief under his nose. Then he drove on and crashed into a lorry at a red traffic light.

After that an odd behaviour was noticed. The markedly affected physician put something trickle out of a small brown bottle in the handkerchief and inhaled the fumes. During the time interval until the arrival of the police he went asleep and could not be waked up without difficulties.

At first he did not take any notice of the police. Later he was extremly unsure, trembled from head to foot, staggered and swayed from site to site and clutched his car not to fall down. The handkerchief in his car smelled of the content of the brown bottle with the label Ethrane®

Enflurane is a type of ether, of which diethyl ether was an early inhaled anaesthetic.

It was one of the great discoveries of surgery although could be lethal in overdose, or if it caught fire – as it is highly flammable.

Needless to say, it has been replaced by rather safer alternatives, when used correctly, of course.

Link to PubMed entry for case study.

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