Is it illegal/unethical for a social worker/police to question someone under sedation?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it illegal/unethical for a social worker/police to question someone under sedation?

Recently I went to the ER due to an anxiety attack. During the course of my

treatment I was sedated with Ativan. While I was sedated I was questioned by

a social worker. I have no recollection of this. Apparently I made some

reference to harming myself although, again, I have no recollection of it. The social worker further asked if I would admit myself to the hospital and I supposedly refused. Again, no recollection. The police were called and I was taken into protective custody and forced against my will to admission to a psychiatric unit and was not permitted to leave until I satisfied the doctors that I had no wish to harm myself and never did. This took 6 days and nearly cost me my job. In order to facilitate discharged I did what was asked of me, including voluntarily admitting myself after the 48 hour expired under threat of court order, such as attending group sessions and taking of a mild antidepressant.

Asked on March 6, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The questioning, by itself, is not illegal.  If they are called because of concerns noted by the medical staff, then they have a duty to ask the questions.  The issue with the sedative, however, will determine the credibility of the statements because of the influence of the substances in your system.  I would recommend that you visit with an attorney that routinely handles mental health commitments to make sure that all of the procedures were followed.  From there, you can make a decision on whether or not you want to proceed with a suit for damages.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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