Is it illegal for a hospital to call the Department of Social Services on you without supporting documentation?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Is it illegal for a hospital to call the Department of Social Services on you without supporting documentation?

I just recently gave birth. At my first prenatal visit 8 months ago, I was asked questions about my previous health history. One of the questions I was asked was have I ever smoked before and I answered honestly, yes I’ve smoked marijuana before but I don’t smoke at all anymore. In July my dr asked was it alright to do a drug test on me since I told them that I had smoked before I agreed to the test because I don’t smoke at all or do any drugs. The test was negative. I went in labor 5 days ago and the nurse asked me was it alright to do another drug test. I said yes, it was okay. Those results were also negative. All my test results were sent to

my chart. After I had my son I was taken to my room where I would be staying a few days and a nurse came in and said she had to get urine from my son so she put a plastic bag over my sons private area with some cotton balls and told me to let them know when he had urinated. It took a whole 24 hours for him to urinate. I never knew what the urine test was for until I was discharged 2 days ago and someone knocked on my door from DSS saying they had got a report from someone at the hospital about me previously smoking marijuana. The woman that came out said it was false information and I feel like my rights were violated as a mother. I filed a complaint against the hospital as well. I had to print the test results off mychart and email them to the woman that came out to prove everything. I need some advice on what to do?

Asked on August 29, 2019 under Malpractice Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not illegal. There is a strong policy to protect children; since it's not always the case that there is "supporting documentation," reports of suspected drug use or other issues affecting them can be reported based solely on, for example, a person's answers to questions or statements that they did things that could be injurious to a child. If supporting documentation were required, many cases of abuse or many threats to child wellbeing would not be reported. For this reason, the hospital will not suffer any sanctions or penalties for making the report, because to punish those who report possible health, development, etc. issues would be to discourage those reportsm, and discouraging those reports is the last thing the authorities want to do.

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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