Legal liability in detox

  1. My administrator told me I am legally liable if a client gets methadone, leaves ( not sure if AMA or reg d/c matters) and Overdoses!!
    the MD who is director says I am not.
    I work in Massachsetts.
    How do I confirm my liability issues?
    New DPH regs coming out every day~
    TY
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   heron
    I think you're liable only if you're the one who gave him too much drug.
  4. by   Meriwhen
    I'm not a lawyer so don't consider this gospel (and we can't give legal advice here at AN anyway), but I would also think that you'd be liable only if you gave him the inappropriate drug (wrong drug, too much, etc.). I think you may also be liable if you give a medication knowing that the patient is going to be behind the wheel of a car within a few minutes. At a lot of the facilities I've worked at, we would not give benzos/narcotics to patients that were discharging within a couple of hours of discharge unless we knew they weren't driving home.

    Otherwise, what the patient does with their legally prescribed medication AFTER they leave the facility is neither your business nor your responsibility.

    If you have liability insurance, I'd contact them to ask.
  5. by   elkpark
    Your facility/organization pays big bucks to have legal counsel available -- I would go to whoever is the legal representation for your employer and ask the question.
  6. by   Buyer beware
    Quote from elkpark
    Your facility/organization pays big bucks to have legal counsel available -- I would go to whoever is the legal representation for your employer and ask the question.
    Yes, this is the answer but there are gray areas in what you ask and they are venue and diagnosis specific.
    If you operate under the ethic of doing what's right for the patient to protect their health and life, that's a starting point.
    So for instance, you would naturally proceed to care for the patient with a diagnosis of "danger to himself or others" and/or in a locked unit or ED somewhat differently than one who was in voluntary or outpatient rehab and no history of suicidal ideations or attempts.
    As far as protecting the patient from the mean blues precipatating an overdose, nurses try but if any patient is hell-bound for leather there's not much you can do.
    On the practiacal side of caring for any patient with substance or psych issues it's always best to ask yourself ' in which ways can this young lady screw me over by going off the deep end.
    The above assessment may sound harsh but any lawyer looking to nail you to the wall will find a reason to destroy your life. And the ironic thing is that they will employ other "expert nurses" to drive in the coffin nails.
    Last edit by Buyer beware on Dec 25, '16 : Reason: w

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