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Is this legal?

Nurses   (4,093 Views 40 Comments)
by BeenThere2012 BeenThere2012 (Member) Writer

BeenThere2012 works as a Registered Nurse.

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Furthermore, does your facility set itself up to enforce all federal laws? If not, its selective enforcement is unethical.

I was wondering whether staff are required to search patients' belongings. And if so - - are LOLs' purses being dumped out, or are they only harassing people who look like stoners? Or is it only imperative to confiscate it if someone notices it?

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BeenThere2012 works as a Registered Nurse.

1 Article; 6,745 Visitors; 764 Posts

To answer and clarify some questions..

We are in California where it is legal for recreational use.

I work in an Acute Psychiatric Hospital, so all belongings, (except clothing without strings etc.) are placed in a locker for the patient. Anything valuable like purses, wallets, etc are placed in a tamper resistant bag and put into a safe. All items are inventoried in front of the patient, including purse and wallet contents. This is so the patient cannot claim we stole money or a phone etc from them after they were admitted. Their belongings are returned to them at discharge.

Pot, pipes, or anything illegal/contraband is taken away, given to our risk manager who turns it over to police to be destroyed. No names are attached to the items as far as I know.

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Thinking out loud:

Is there a problem here that the OP's place is only confiscating if no mm card, but then citing federal marijuana law in doing so? I mean, it's a crime according to the feds no matter why you have it. That's the part that seems iffy to me. You either confiscate all of it based on federal law, or you confiscate none of it based on state law (exceptions large amounts/minors).

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BeenThere2012 works as a Registered Nurse.

1 Article; 6,745 Visitors; 764 Posts

Thinking out loud:

Is there a problem here that the OP's place is only confiscating if no mm card, but then citing federal marijuana law in doing so? I mean, it's a crime according to the feds no matter why you have it. That's the part that seems iffy to me. You either confiscate all of it based on federal law, or you confiscate none of it based on state law (exceptions large amounts/minors).

That's what I was also thinking??? I still think we are confiscating someone's legal property.

If they have a card, we store it in the safe and return it. If they don't, it is confiscated and given to the risk manager.

I don't "get it" and still questioning if this is legal to do, or even ethical?

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MunoRN has 10 years experience and works as a Critical Care.

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Health care facilities are not arms of federal law enforcement, so there really isn't any legal justification for taking someone's property as part of a law enforcement act, it's still just theft.

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elizabethgrad09 has 7 years experience.

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Am I the crazy one here? Abiding by a federal law prohibiting marijuana possession means specifically you don't possess marijuana, not that you steal it from somebody. Because that's what confiscating is (as the OP is feeling) when you have no legal authority to do so - theft. Staff aren't even mandated reporters of marijuana possession, nor of positive tests for controlled substances. Furthermore, does your facility set itself up to enforce all federal laws? If not, its selective enforcement is unethical.

As a nurse who does home visits, we are specifically prohibited from requiring patients surrender medications they are no longer taking (although we educate and offer to destroy narcotics) because the meds are the patient's property. Why should a hospital be different?

When patients bring medications into our psych Hospital, they are locked up for return at discharge. Controlled substances are locked up in a separate bag. But, part of the discharge process is that the doctor marks whether or not their medications should be returned to them (check box for each separate Med). I had a patient who came in for opiate detox and his Suboxone was marked as do not return. We give it to pharmacy where it is presumably destroyed. The patient was not happy.

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That's what I was also thinking??? I still think we are confiscating someone's legal property.

If they have a card, we store it in the safe and return it. If they don't, it is confiscated and given to the risk manager.

I don't "get it" and still questioning if this is legal to do, or even ethical?

It's good that you are questioning this policy. Advocacy, IMHO, is an essential part of excellence in nursing.

I think there is zero standing based on where you receive federal funds (Payor) to follow federal S-I laws on this. Why become the pot police and take "ownership" of possession.

Treat it as secure personal property, as it it is quasi-legal in your state.

Don't start nothing, won't be nothing - is a a great rule. Your facility is inviting problems with their current grab and gab pot policy. IME, problems rarely need an invitation, they just march through destroying everything in their way. How does your facility know the cops can't ID the owner of the pot in some way, that admissions can't be tracked and names correlated. It could happen.

Anyway.

I think you are on the right path. I would ask Risk Mgmt for some clarification and maybe some hard questions. There is potential for badness in the current practice.

All it takes is one rogue cop getting one patient on the radar from info gleaned from your facility and BAM - it could be an issue.

Good Luck.

You Rock!

:angel:

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Health care facilities are not arms of federal law enforcement, so there really isn't any legal justification for taking someone's property as part of a law enforcement act, it's still just theft.

True. But most hospital get a heckuva lot of revenue from Federal programs, which I am guessing could be in jeorpardy for breaking federal law.....

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gettingbsn2msn has 5+ years experience and works as a RN.

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A new cannabis medication is coming to market in approximately 4 to 6 weeks. The drug is legal and manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals. The DEA rescheduled thc from schedule 1 to schedule 5 in September 2018 for this one company. The medication is Epidiolex. It will contain 98% CBD oil, 1% thc and 1% strawberry and other fillers for taste. The cost will be (according to the investor website) 24k to 32k per year. It is coming to market for migraines and will be completely legal, provided you have a RX.

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gettingbsn2msn has 5+ years experience and works as a RN.

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That is the reason. They would loose reimbursement from federal programs as it is federally illegal.

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Katillac has 18 years experience as a RN.

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True. But most hospital get a heckuva lot of revenue from Federal programs, which I am guessing could be in jeorpardy for breaking federal law.....

There is no law that says facilities must confiscate controlled or illegal substances. In fact, if they confiscate they are then in possession of said substances, which is illegal.

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