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Whitney Houston's Toxicology Report...Dr. Phil Leveque Salem-News.com
What's going on (or not) Medical Automatism can kill.
(MOLALLA, OR) - Before I start out, I’d like everyone to know that I am a Forensic Toxicologist, that is, I have operated, myself, a poison detection laboratory and I have testified in court over 400 times on all sorts of poison cases, homicide, suicide, accidental overdose, and Medical misadventure (wrong drug or wrong dose).
In writing this, I think I know something about the toxicology procedures from start to finish. When I heard the Deputy Medical Examiner (?) speak (or not speak) about the procedures regarding the current Whitney Houston case I was flabbergasted at their ignorance of the first two rules regarding suspicious deaths of a person. The first rule is to find out as soon as possible, 2 or 3 days at most, what the cause of death was. The second rule is that there are no other rules. To have the Deputy say that it would take from 6 to 8 weeks to come to a “conclusion” really knocked me off my feet.
The Los Angeles Crime Lab seems to have about four excuses for this awkward Tour de Force: Number One, they do not have a Forensic Toxicologist, if not they should have one. An Analytical Chemist is NOT a Toxicologist. Number Two, if they do have one, this case should be priority ONE and he or she should be immediately put to work. Number Three, if they are stalling to get more money to hire one this is a good idea. Number Four, if this is some sort of a Publicity scheme to show how important they are, this is totally unacceptable and a gross injustice to the Houston family.
I’m now going to speculate on what went on. The L.A. Crime Lab gives me no other option. Whitney has been known for years to take tranquilizers of various kinds and chase them with a little booze to help get her to sleep and continue to sleep. God knows her life is a frantic chaos.
The current story is that she has been taking short-term powerful Benzodiazapines most likely Xanax with a usual dose of 0.5 milligrams (like a grain of salt), Ativan with a standard dose of 1.0mg and/or Halcion with a standard dose of 0.25mg. These are TINY amounts but powerful medicines. If a person takes one or more pills with some booze sleepiness occurs rapidly but in the meantime because they are brain depressants immediate memory is the first to go and the person will take more not remembering that she already had some.
In Whitney’s case she also felt a warm bath would help her to sleep but doing all this in a bath tub is extremely dangerous. The story seems to be that she slipped under the surface of the water and drowned.
This sequence of events listed above is called Automatism which is fairly common. The person without thinking takes more and more drug (and maybe alcohol).
Whether her death was accidental or otherwise, her family deserves this service.
Got a question or comment for Dr. Leveque?
More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole".
If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.
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