The New Good Samaritan Law: Go ahead…Call 911

New Good Samaritan Law for North Carolina

New Good Samaritan Law for North Carolina

In an effort to reduce drug overdose deaths, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory approved a law earlier this month that limits legal consequences for people who call 911 to summon help for a friend who has overdosed. In the past, drug users have been reluctant to summon medical assistance for an overdosed companion, fearing police may arrive, and charge them with possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia. As a result, people die from overdoses due to a lack of timely medical care. In its place, the overdosed person’s companions may try an ineffective home remedy for overdose.

The new law doesn’t give a pass for all drug possession. It says that a person acting in good faith to seek medical assistance for an individual suffering a drug overdose will not be prosecuted for possession of less than one gram of cocaine or one gram of heroin. I don’t know if that means possession of larger amounts may still be prosecuted, but I suspect so. There is no mention of prescription drug possession specifically in the law, but I hope prescription opioids would be treated the same as heroin.

This new bill, called the Good Samaritan Bill, also says that if an underage drinker summons medical help for another person, the underage drinker will not be prosecuted by law enforcement, including campus police. The law says the underage drinker must use his own name when contacting authorities, reasonably believe he was the first to call for help, and must remain with the person needing medical help until it arrives to be covered by this law.

The bill has provisions for doctors to be able to prescribe an opioid antagonist such as naloxone to any person at risk of having an opioid-related overdose. Doctors can also prescribe this medication to the friend or family member of a person at risk for an overdose, even if that person is not a patient of the doctor. Also, a private citizen who possesses an overdose kit can administer it to another person who has had an overdose, so long as they use reasonable care. This law says the private citizen is immune to civil or criminal liability.

This is a great new law, and hopefully it will reduce witnessed overdose deaths. But the law won’t help unless addicts and their companions are aware of this law. Spread the word!

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by db312 on April 21, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Good news! I saw one person lose consciousness after injecting a potent dose of heroin. He was smacked around until he was somewhat responsive, then immediately tossed out the door. And he was a ‘friend’ of these people.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Jaime on April 22, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Yay this makes me so happy, a strong step in the right direction!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Carlos on February 5, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Dr.
    You maybe interested in this article and comment on it. This was sent to me from the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition. The article is from The Fix

    Over Dose Jumped a whopping 39% from 2012 to 2013

    http://www.thefix.com/content/heroin-overdose-deaths-jump-39-between-2012-and-2013

    Reply

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