Ethical question...give their alcohol back or not? - page 3

Your patient is in your hospital department because they are either drunk (ER) or admitted for DT's (floor). You or a co-worker find a bottle of alcohol in your patients belongings. Do you: A) ... Read More

  1. by   edmia
    Quote from Wet Noodle

    Are you on some kind of WCTU power trip? One of these days you will be called on the carpet for theft/vandalism of patient property — and rightly so. You are not the hospital's moral lawman.

    If you're posting from Saudi Arabia, I take it all back — different culture, different legal system.
    I guess the police will have to take me and every other ED nurse and EMS I ever dealt with then! I'm not talking from Saudi Arabia but definitely from a harsh urban environment where ETOH abuse is rampant and frequent fliers in the ED puking, defecating, and urinating on the hospital floors don't get any special treatment. Not a moral issue at all, just practicality. Don't get so upset ;-)

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com
  2. by   Wet Noodle
    Quote from edmia
    I guess the police will have to take me and every other ED nurse and EMS I ever dealt with then! I'm not talking from Saudi Arabia but definitely from a harsh urban environment where ETOH abuse is rampant and frequent fliers in the ED puking, defecating, and urinating on the hospital floors don't get any special treatment. Not a moral issue at all, just practicality. Don't get so upset ;-)
    By your criteria, you'd toss out the Beaujolais nouveau, but keep the '82 Bordeaux? If I fell down on my way out of the wine store an was taken to the ER with my bottles, I would not be happy if you poured out my wine. In fact, I'd make a big stink about it, even if it were a perplexing 1995 Medoc. Or even if it were my bottle of rotgut.

    The hospital is neither the place for the morality police nor for wine and spirits critics.
  3. by   Anna Flaxis
    I'm going with A.
  4. by   chevyv
    Oops, double post, sorry all
    Last edit by chevyv on Sep 25, '12 : Reason: double post
  5. by   chevyv
    It's not mine to do much with. It belongs to the patient. I would find out what the policy is and follow it. If there is no policy, it gets locked up or sent home with family if pt gives the okay.

    Then again if it's one of those really really bad nights and it's a decent bottle....... Just kidding, couldn't resist
  6. by   Multicollinearity
    This an interesting question for nurses who work on Native American reservations where alcohol is illegal.
  7. by   morte
    This is a replay. This question was posted ? couple years ago? As to the codependence issue, that would apply IF I were buying and giving it to the patient, not so much returning his property. If his family wants to throw it out, so be it.
  8. by   Jory
    Quote from JBudd
    We give it to security, who dumps it out. Often the police bring guys in, they dump it out too. Don't need people getting drunk in the ER or on the floors; we are already treated as a hotel with frequent demands for food/blankets/juice/whatever. Its a safety issue.

    Don't give back partial bottles of pills to the ODs either. People aren't allowed to keep meds at bedside without a doctor's order (are catelogued and sent to pharmacy if not sent home).
    Unless there is a state law against it, I don't understand under what legal authority you can confiscate and dispose of someone's personal property...even if it is the security guard, as these guys typically have little to no training.

    If they are there for an overdose (life threatening), that is no different than a coming in with a gunshot wound and a gun.

    But just being drunk?

    If they are over 21, I can see confiscating it WHILE THEY ARE AT THE ER to ensure they don't drink it, but you can't take that away just like you cannot take away cash, or anything else that belongs to them.
  9. by   Jory
    He bought it and it's his personal property...the liability rests with the person that owns it.

    ABC stores sell alcohol to known drunks all the time...never heard of one getting sued for it.
  10. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from JBudd
    We give it to security, who dumps it out. Often the police bring guys in, they dump it out too. Don't need people getting drunk in the ER or on the floors; we are already treated as a hotel with frequent demands for food/blankets/juice/whatever. Its a safety issue.

    Don't give back partial bottles of pills to the ODs either. People aren't allowed to keep meds at bedside without a doctor's order (are catelogued and sent to pharmacy if not sent home).
    I like this answer. Rarely do I deviate from the letter of the law, but the honest truth is it makes sense to dump it out. I don't care about their property rights with alcohol in a hospital. I just don't.
  11. by   Wet Noodle
    Quote from Multicollinearity
    I like this answer. Rarely do I deviate from the letter of the law, but the honest truth is it makes sense to dump it out. I don't care about their property rights with alcohol in a hospital. I just don't.
    I'm sure there are some people who don't care about they things that you care about, and thus would have no compunction in violating your rights in those matters.

    Confiscating people's property is bad enough, but doing it when they're unable to do or say anything about it is even more troubling.
  12. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from Wet Noodle
    I'm sure there are some people who don't care about they things that you care about, and thus would have no compunction in violating your rights in those matters.
    True!
    Last edit by Multicollinearity on Sep 26, '12
  13. by   ShaunaJaNae777
    Quote from ERnurse2001
    Your patient is in your hospital department because they are either drunk (ER) or admitted for DT's (floor). You or a co-worker find a bottle of alcohol in your patients belongings. Do you:A) Keep it with the patient's belongings. It is their property and you have no right to dictate what happens to it other than to treat it like any of their other belongings. B) Empty whatever is left in the bottle and throw it away. Your patient obviously has an alcohol problem and it is your responsibility to see to it that they abstain whether they like it or not. Would love your input!
    I would def leave it. Alcohol withdrawal can kill the alcoholic. If he/she was in for rehab/detox it would be a different story.

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