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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 118615
Experience:  Licensed Attorney. Over 20 years experience in personal injury and law enforcement.
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I'm a retired RN who worked several years in the ER and have

Customer Question

I'm a retired RN who worked several years in the ER and have handled many OPC/EPC. I was recently shocked to find out our coroner will not sign an OPC unless family provides him with name of facility with available beds. My impression of process was OPC signed, sheriff transports person to ER for evaluation, PEC issued and nurses locate accepting facility. I've sent emails to coroner's throughout the state. 100% of those responding disagree with our local coroner's handling of OPC. 3 weeks ago a mom requested an OPC for her suicidal son calling his office 3 times and 3 times he refused. Her son left town the next day. 2 weeks later she received a video from inside a carbon monoxide filled car apologizing and saying goodby I love you so much. That mom was me. The police in Colorado were able to get to him in time. They told me he revved the engine so much that it eventually pushed the hose out of the tailpipe or he would have died. Now he sits alone in a hospital 2000 miles away. Since this occurrence I've spoken with local mental health workers who said my son was not the only one allowed to fall through the cracks d/t the coroner's practices. The results from the poll will be placed on spreadsheet. No names, only numbers . Not sure of the process but steps will be taken to facilitate change in the way OPC's are handled. Do I have any legal recourse?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
As you should know the Coroner is one of the most powerful positions in government and each coroner has the right to interpret the commitment law and set their own requirements. An OPC should not require a facility with a bed, it is an emergency order for evaluation and you are correct in that the person is to be brought to an ER to determine if they even need further evaluation. However, under state law as well, the coroner is "generally" immune from suit for performance of their duties, EXCEPT in cases of gross negligence. In the case you describe, I would believe gross negligence could be proven and if you have spoken to other doctors and coroners who are confirming what you and I also know (that bed space is not required to issue the OPC) then you do have a basis to sue the coroner for negligence and malpractice for improperly denying the OPC when it was necessary and met the requirements.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I will send you an offer for phone service as the site requires.