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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Exclamation What Are Your Rights to Refuse Medical Treatment While in Custody


    I am not sure where to post this.
    I was arrested on a warrant for a municipal offense I did not know I was charged with. The whole matter seemed to be handled strangely…. One part I really need to ask about.

    I was taken to a city jail. After I was put into a cell, I threw up because of nerves – it wasn’t much (sorry to be gross). The Jail staff came into the cell 30 minutes later after they noticed I had puked via the camera. (This is according to their records.) They asked why I puked – and expressed they thought I did it on purpose. I told them had not , I was just nervous and scared about being in jail and I was ok.

    They called paramedics. I told them I was ok, I didn’t need medical care. I just wanted to bond out and get home so I could take my regular medications. They asked what those were - I told them I take medications for seizures but they only happen at night or when the meds are suddenly stopped so that’s why I just wanted to get the bond done ASAP.

    I told them I did not consent to treatment and did not consent to going to the hospital. They told me I had no choice. I was walked out to the ambulance. An officer said, “maybe now you will learn to not throw up.”
    I was put into the ambulance, and they started an IV, cuffed my arms and legs and put on restrains on top of that and seatbelt. I told them I did not consent to the IV and did not want fluids. The paramedic said I had no choice again, “you are the property of the city of …. now.”

    All of the records from the jail and the hospital and the paramedics note two things: I was tearful and crying at times, and I kept repeating I did not consent to medical treatment. No record stated I was aggressive or a danger to myself or anyone else.
    The paramedics started taking blood and I asked what it was for, and said I did not consent to taking my blood. They said it was for tests. I said I did not consent to any medical tests. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk about it, but I was trying to repeat I did not consent enough that there would be no question that I did not consent.
    The paramedics wheeled me in and at the hospital, I remained cuffed to the bed by both wrists and ankles. I also had additional restraints (not metal cuffs but fabric type bands) on each arm and each ankle.

    I started to cry. The doctor came in and said they would give me Ativan to help me feel better, less nervous, since I puked because I was nervous. I told them I did not need Ativan, did not want it, and I did not consent and I have regaular mediations I can take for anxiety – if they give anything, please at least give my regular non-addictive anxiety medication (Lexapro). I told them I do not take Ativan and I was concerned it would interact with my regular medications (and later confirmed there is a serious interaction between Ativan and my regular medications.) They gave me Ativan in the IV anyhow. They ran fluid from the IV bag for about I minute and then shut off the value to the IV bag. I just wanted to get through this and go home.

    They said I had no rights to refuse medications or medical tests.

    They came in with a bedpan. Two female hospital nurses and one male guard all demanded I pee in the bedpan. I couldn’t. I said I didn’t consent to giving urine sample and I didn’t want more tests. I wanted to go back to the jail. They said I had to pee or they would insert a catheter. I asked why they needed my urine. They said it was for a pregnancy test….

    I said I do not consent to a pregnancy test. (there is no way I am pregnant anyhow). I said they needed to get a court order before taking my blood urine and injecting any more drugs. They said they did not. It was just a guard and two nurses. The nurses said they didn’t need a court order…

    But if I had not been under arrest I would have had the right to sign out against medical advice and refuse treatment. The officer/guard in the room didn’t express to me that he was requesting the blood or urine, but he said that if I didn’t pee they would force me to have catheter inserted. He even said they would “So you better pee now or else we will strip you down and insert a catheter…”

    I am female and was raped 7 years ago, so all of this was a little triggering just to imagine going through. I used what I learned in tretament for that assult to stay calm. But I couldn't hold back tears. I told them please no. I tried to pee in the bedpan but I couldn’t. I began to cry. I was scared they would insert the catheter. (The rape had actually caused damge to that area so medically that would have been an involved process anyhow.)

    The hospital records note I was “tearful.” It also says I said I did not consent but also stated I was compliant to requests.

    The nurses and hospital staff all left. Two came back in afew minutes later. They said they were going to give me another medication to help me pee. I said I do not want more medications please stop I do not consent. She inserted the needle into the IV tube. She told me the name and I remembered having that drug when I had surgery awhile ago. She didn’t turn on the IV fluid again but some of the drug still got in me from the tube. Just as the nurse turned her back, I rubbed my arm against the rail and knocked out the IV. Yes, I did that on purpose. The IV fluid went on the bed and my arm bled. The nurse noticed and said I knocked it out on purpose and that was stupid because they would just have to insert it again. I did not confirm nor deny this, I just responded by saying, “I do not consent to any more drugs or tests.”

    The drug started to affect me more. I felt sleepy.

    They never reinserted the IV. Instead I was released from the hospital. I fell over walking out to the cop car to go back to jail. I don’t remember the next 6 hours very well.

    Eventually I was released from jail. A captain heard about the disabled girl (I have braces I wear on my feet) who kept falling over during my mug shot. I don’t remember taking a mug shot at all… When the captain started looking into the matter, he came down and actually personally called my family and had them come get me. Until then, no one would allow me to call anyone to bond out.

    Since my release, I have confirmed the medication they gave me according to their records is a very heavy anthesthesia drug. It is not used to help people pee (it is not a drug that increases urination) and it is not used to calm people down. My doctor said maybe they used it to sedate me, as that is all the drug is used for – but usually for surgery. They use other drugs to sedate someone if they are upset or violent or something. There is also concern that I was very much restrained and there was no notation of any caused to sedate me. My doctor says I likely would have gone into respiratory arrest if the full amount of the drug had entered into my body and I had not knocked out the IV. Of course no one would have intended that – it’s just a reflection of how much of a very strong drug they gave for no known or documented reason.

    Thankfully I did knock the IV out. I don’t want to sue.

    I do want to know what my rights are and are not regarding medical treatment while under arrest.

    Do I really have no rights to refuse medical care while in police custody? Don’t they have to get a warrant or court order to take blood and urine against my consent? Or is it all ok for the police and hospital to do this? And to do it in response to me throwing up because of nerves?

    I think the officers just abused power a bit by sending me to the ER to delay my bonding b/c they thought I puked un purpose and were pissed about it. I have no explanation for the demand for my blood and urine and for drugging me with multiple drugs. The records don’t give any reasons and are lacking in much information. I am completely confused and baffled as to what my rights are regarding medical treatment and being able to refuse it.

    Why did I refuse care? I wanted to get through the bondng out process and not be delayed by a trip to the hospital. Even once I was there and couldn’t do a thing about the delay in bonding out, I still did not want medical tests or treatment because have had bad reaction to medications, regular routine medications for physical health problems so I prefer to stick to what I know works ok in my body given by doctors who know me and my medical history. Throwing up because I was nervous, or at all, without any other symptoms or reasoning by doctor for more medical tests is not grounds to rush to the ER and rush to drug me and do all kinds of tests. All the tests they did do turned out normal. They drugged me anyhow – and noted nothing as to why. No medical or mental health reason for it. Ativan was for nervousness…. Ok…. Sure… but then even more? And even if I am nervous, do I really have no right to refuse medication for it unless there is a court order for it? (or there is danger to myself or others?)

    I don't want to sue, none of this impacted the minor municpal charge (that was dismissed), it did cause some emotional hell for me the days after the arrest and it did delay bonding out and it was a miserable experience. But it is over. And I just want to know what my rights really are. I think it would help me feel better and is something a counselor suggested. So I'm asking here and hoping anyone might be able to help me find out.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: What Are Your Rights to Refuse Medical Treatment While in Custody

    Were you admitted through the psych ER or the regular ER?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Re: What Are Your Rights to Refuse Medical Treatment While in Custody

    regular ER

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Default Re: What Are Your Rights to Refuse Medical Treatment While in Custody

    Although some of your story seems a bit fishy to me, in some circumstances you do not have the right to refuse medical treatment. If the jail felt that you were physically ill (which they could justify via the vomit) and could reasonably explain that there was concern for a major medical issue (which they could because you admit that you suffer from seizures, and take medications for that condition and the jail could not ascertain when, or if, you would be able to leave the jail) then the jail has the ability to place you into medical protective custody. Bascially, they can ascertain your condition and how best to handle your incarceration. They don't need your conscent to draw blood, urine, or administer medication if it can be explained to by in the patients best medical interest. What they cannot do is use any blood, urine, or medical samples against you in court without a court order.

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