Hospitals that fail to provide necessary care for substance use disorders in the Emergency Department can face legal liability under federal law, according to a new report.
The Legal Action Center examined the legal obligations of hospitals to provide evidence-based, lifesaving care to ER patients with substance use disorders. This care includes screening and diagnosis, administering opioid addiction medication, facilitating treatment referrals and providing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.
Hospitals that fail to provide this care could face legal liability under four separate federal laws, the report states.
“With more than 19 million U.S. adults currently living with a substance use disorder, and amidst an escalating overdose crisis, emergency departments not only have the role and resources to address life-threatening emergencies, but, as our report shows, the legal obligation to do so,” report co-author Sika Yeboah-Sampong said in a news release. “This should be a wakeup call for emergency departments across the country.”