My Son Died of an Overdose in Rehab...

by Christy
(Endicott, NY)

My 15 year old was sent to a rehab for drinking and smoking pot. He never did any narcotics. The day before he was supposed to come home he got a new roommate who was able to smuggle in 15 Fentanly patches 100mcg. My son took some and he died as a result from an overdose.

I have a lawyer and we are waiting for the investigation portion of the case to be finished. It has been 4 months. I want their soul. I am his mother and in more pain then I thought possible, but I do not know what is legitimately reasonable. What is legally possible to do against the rehab center and/or the roommate?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "My Son Died of an Overdose in Rehab...":

Christy (Endicott, NY):

It is our policy at ISG not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be entirely inappropriate. You should direct your questions to your attorney.

With that understanding we can make some general observations...

In a rehabilitation setting it is incumbent upon management to take all reasonable actions to thwart attempts made by patients to import or ingest opiates or other non-prescribed drugs. With that said, the courts will take into consideration the policies employed by the center to make sure your son didn't have access to such opiates.

Liability in these types of cases usually revolves around whether a rehabilitation center's policies for thwarting the import of illegal or non-prescribed drugs into their facility was reasonable under the circumstances. This will take into consideration past successful attempts by patients at importing such drugs and the types of actions taken by the center to prevent repeat occurrences.

Rehabilitation centers are under a higher standard than regular hospitals to provide special attention and care to the clandestine importation of illegal or non-prescribed drugs into their facility. After all, most patients have substantial previous expertise in the secreting of these types of drugs.

The center must always be at least one step ahead. But there is never a completely fool-proof way to keep drugs out of a rehabilitation center. If another patient was able to import the opiates and your son voluntarily ingested them, the center may claim they were unable to stop your son from ingesting the opiates. Such a defense seems at best, weak.

There is no doubt the patient who provided the opiates shares some amount of liability. If he has financial assets it may be worth pursuing him. If he doesn't, you might be wasting your time doing so.

Rely on your attorney's advice. Matters like this move slowly. It must be very difficult for you. If you trust your lawyer, step back and let her do her job. We hope in the end you may enjoy some resolution to your grief.

Best of Luck,

Law Guy

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