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Tennessee Lawmakers Consider Mandatory Reporting of Drug Overdoses by Health Care Providers

 Posted on April 14,2022 in Drug Crimes

Knox County criminal defense attorneyThe opioid epidemic is killing approximately 70,000 people each year in the United States. It is estimated that each year, there are more than 1.5 million people who struggle with addiction. For many who are addicted, once they cannot get legitimate prescription medications, they often turn to heroin. Every year, more than 50,000 people use heroin for the first time and every year, more than 14,000 people die from heroin overdoses.

While many states have passed laws that are more sympathetic for addicts who commit crimes, focusing more on treatment over punishment, that does not seem to be the case in Tennessee as lawmakers consider a bill that would require all health care providers to notify police of anyone they treat for a drug overdose.

SB 1891

According to wording in the bill, anyone who is “called to tender aid to persons” who are suffering a drug overdose would be required to report that overdose to either the police chief or sheriff of the area treatment was provided. In addition, the health care provider must also report that the individual who suffered the overdose to the District Attorney General’s Office.

The information the health care provider would be required to report includes:

  • The individual’s name
  • The individual’s address
  • The individual’s employer (if known)
  • Location of the individual when the report is made
  • Location where the drug overdose occurred

The provider must also include in their report what the extent of the injuries the individual suffered because of the overdose.

The Senate is due to vote on the bill on April 25. There is a companion bill currently in the House, which is scheduled to be discussed in committee on April 15. If the bill passes both the House and the Senate, it will go into effect on July 1.

Possible Ramifications?

According to the bill’s content, passing this law would add “drug overdose” to the list of incidents that health care providers and others are required by law to report to law enforcement, including gunshot wounds, knife wounds, or any wounds caused by a deadly weapon, poison, strangulation, or other violent acts.

If this bill becomes law, the question then becomes what happens to these reported individuals? Will the law enforcement agency press drug charges against them because they overdosed?

Let a Union County Defense Attorney Help

If you are struggling with drug addiction and have been arrested for drug possession or other drug-related crime, treatment not incarceration should be the goal. Call Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney at 865-281-1000 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Knox County drug crimes lawyer and find out how we can help.



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