Underage alcohol poisoning/ Drug Overdose

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    Hi! I'm a pre-nursing student. I have been wondering about this for the longest time and no one seems to know the answer. If someone has taken an illegal drug, and as a result is having physical problems and needs to go to a hospital/call an amubulance, etc-- will they get in trouble for taking drugs? Or, is there some law (HIPPA?) that will protect them? Obviously the hospital will treat them, but does the hospital have to inform the police?

    I was also wondering about underage drinking-- if someone goes to the hospital/calls an ambulance, will they get in trouble? I kind of have a vague memory of a friend getting a court summons after an incident-- but I'm not sure.

    I am not underage nor do I take any drugs! I'm just curious!
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  4. 8 Comments so far...

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    They won't get in trouble with the law, but they might have to worry about Mom and Dad! Usually thie only time the law gets involved is if the pt was operating/in a vehicle, or if the cops were called by citizens.
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    I work on a peds unit and a few years back we had a 17 yr. old that was dumped in the ED parking lot by her boyfriend, with a BAC off the charts and hyped up on all sorts of illegal drugs. When they stablized her they sent her to us... and we got to deal with her coming down off all those wonderful things! UGH... she was hallucinating and kept screaming that "this is the worst ***king trip I've ever been on!" She never got in trouble with the law from that, but she did call her boyfriend to ask why he didn't end up in the hospital, since they did the same drugs and he told her he was dumping her. Then she got all kinds of disappointed when she found out she was on a hold and wasn't going to be released to go to this "killer" party. For her it probably would have been a "killer" party, sadly enough.
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    I know that we tell our pts on our ER that they are not going to get in trouble with the law. It is a HIPPA violation to tell. Just like we can not just draw a BAL for the cops unless the pt signs a form stating we can. The ones we draw for their treatment cannot be used legally nor can we legally release the results to the police.
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    Doesn't Pennsyvania have a law that takes your drivers license if you get busted for underage drinking?(you don't have to be driving) Wouldn't such a law require the hospital to call the police? You see I am not sure of this I just vaguely remember hearing something about it.
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    In the city I work in on the ambulance, if a call comes in that sounds like drugs are involved even if they are only requesting an ambulance a cruiser will be go as well. If they come into thehospital on their own then the hospital cannot involve the police unless they have illlegal drugs on them, which would need to be disposed of. Well at least this has been my experience, not sure about other systems/states

    Swtooth
  10. 0
    Quote from oramar
    Doesn't Pennsyvania have a law that takes your drivers license if you get busted for underage drinking?(you don't have to be driving) Wouldn't such a law require the hospital to call the police? You see I am not sure of this I just vaguely remember hearing something about it.
    Yes, PA does have such a law. But a majority of ODs/ETOH cases we get in the ER do not have law enforcement involvement. We do not call police unless there's some other reason to.

    College students living on campus are the ones that get busted for this most often -- they drink/use drugs ... friends have trouble waking them up & get scared ... call 911 or campus security ... the call alerts the campus police ... and the campus police are the ones that follow through on the underage drinking/illegal drug use issue.
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    At the last Woodstaock fiasco, I had to take care of a 14 yo girl from NJ, pregnant and high on Ketamine and Ecstacy. I called her Mother and got an earful about this 'ungrateful' child. We did not call the cops, just the social worker...so somebody would hold he rhand til Mom drove up from NJ to collect her. Lovely people! Barneyrn
  12. 0
    Yes Virginia has a law too, if you drink underage you can lose your liscence. In addition, (this makes no sense to me) If you are a sober designated driver, and you are underage and meanwhile the passengers are drunk underage-- you can lose your liscence too.

    It's good the ER does not get law enforcement involved.


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