Hospitals still report victims of overdose
Published by El Akhbar
Original Article here.
Three of the four hospitals in Lebanon are reporting overdose to security forces before they are treated in the emergency department. This practice violates Ministry of Health Circular No. 46 of 3/22/2016 that considers that “the addict is sick and a victim and not a criminal”, and obliges hospitals to deal with him on this basis, and that he has the full right to health, protection, confidentiality and privacy. Fear of arrest deprives at least 50% of those overdosed of receiving emergency medical services that can save them from an inevitable death.
On "World Awareness Day on Overdose Risks", which falls tomorrow, Michel Wazzan, coordinator of the drug policy division at the Lebanese Center for Addiction - Sukoon, expressed her concern about the decrease in the number of hospitals that do not inform the security forces of cases of overdose. The number of people reporting is even more than the survey conducted by the center last year (only 28 private and government hospitals out of 133 do not report the case), most of which are concentrated in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. And the reason? She answers: “There are several reasons, including the lack of training of the medical and nursing team on the content of the circular and the failure to monitor its application at all, while the failure of hospitals to adhere to may simply be due to the lack of knowledge of all staff in the hospital itself with the circular, meaning that in the same hospital, we may find an employee who happens to His presence in the emergency department reports one case and another does not. »
The procedure that hospitals take is based on Circular No. 55 of 1/4/2006 of the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, which requires that the Internal Security Forces be informed of accidents resulting from the “actions of others”. According to Wazzan, hospitals interpret "the act of others" with every unlawful act, and even though the overdose is not "the act of others", "fear of stigma and discrimination against drug users plays a major role in the hospital's decision." The irony is that the hospital may receive the case of alcohol overdose as a legal substance, while it does not receive the drug overdose, knowing that both are at the same level of risk!
What is remarkable is what Wazzan points to regarding the fact that informing the hospital of the security forces "prevents the last person who saw the case of an overdose from providing assistance or calling the ambulance at the minimum level, and it happens a lot that saves throw the case at the hospital door and flee." She explained that "anyone who uses drugs, even if it is for the first time in his life, is exposed to overdose, and not only those who use drugs for a long time."
In 2015, Sukoon interviewed 300 drug users, 35% of whom were overdosed. 50% of those did not seek medical attention for fear of arrest, while those who went to the emergency department to obtain assistance, ended up arresting and prosecuting them.
According to a survey conducted by the Center in 2018, which included 3,274 young men and women between 18 and 35 years old, it was found that one person out of every 4 people knew someone or he himself was exposed to a drug related emergency.