Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Hospital Not Liable for Overdose, Court Rules

(CN) - A North Carolina hospital did not commit medical malpractice by failing to administer a drug test to a girl who later overdosed on heroin, the state Court of Appeals ruled.

Dinah Boryla-Lett and Jeffrey Lett sued Holly Hill Hospital on behalf of their 20-year-old daughter, Amanda, whom they had checked into the hospital.

Amanda took a handful of pills in the waiting room but did not seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to intake specialist evaluator Scott Jackson, who did not perform a drug test or interview her parents.

Jackson and Dr. John Clapacs agreed that Amanda did not need to be committed to the hospital involuntarily. Her parents grew angry at their daughter and the hospital staff and left Amanda at Holly Hill. She took a cab home.

One day later, Amanda locked herself in the bathroom and fatally overdosed on heroin.

The trial court ruled for the hospital, and the state appeals court affirmed.

"Plaintiffs do not allege in their complaint that defendants acted with gross negligence or willful misconduct," Judge Jackson wrote. "Therefore, defendants' statutory immunity cannot be overcome by plaintiffs' claim of ordinary negligence."

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