BC Health Ministry directs hospitals to crackdown on people using substances, no indication of new Overdose Prevention sites: Report

On May 1, British Columbia’s Ministry of Health circulated its new “general policy directive” on substance use in hospitals to health authorities. (The full document can be downloaded at the bottom of this page).

The purported scope of the report is to bring a “consistent approach in all BC hospitals that prohibits the self-management (injection, inhalation/smoking or other means) by patients, outside of a designated overdose prevention service site,” and directs health authorities to “increase security in hospitals to support clinical teams by responding to problematic behaviours.”

The policy direction states, “Non-compliance will be addressed by hospital relational and other on-site security, in consultation with the patient’s clinical team, through an escalation process that ultimately could include the discharge of the patient and/or police involvement” (emphasis added).

It also states that security will receive training to “manage instances of exposure to illicit substances,” but does not indicate what the risks of exposure are. BC’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions have previously referred to a debunked myth that touching fentanyl can have adverse effects. The report also says security will provided with “training in decontamination following an exposure.”

Overall, the focus is on security, compliance and putting people at risk of negative health outcomes and death by threatening early discharge. It does not make reference to overdose prevention sites where people could use substances safely when hospitalized, which BC NDP Health Minister Adrian Dix previously seemed to have announced , but was walked back by BC NDP Premier David Eby.

Download the full report below: