Medical Amnesty Policy

Policy Statement

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) encourages a living and learning environment that promotes the health and safety of all members of the UAB community. Drug or alcohol consumption—including excessive consumption, consumption of a dangerous substance, or consumption by someone with sensitivity—can cause serious physical and neurological harm or be life-threatening. As such, students are encouraged to make responsible decisions and to seek medical attention in serious or life-threatening situations that result from alcohol and/or other drug abuse.  Students are also encouraged to seek help for any situation in which medical treatment is reasonably believed to be appropriate. If a student is so intoxicated that he/she is unable to be awakened, letting that person "sleep it off" is not a reasonable alternative to getting him/her the necessary medical help. Students may be hesitant to seek assistance in such circumstances, because of fear of potential conduct consequences for themselves or because of a fear of potential conduct consequences for the person in need of medical attention.

If medical attention is required, students should immediately seek professional medical assistance by seeking the assistance by calling 911.  A student who seeks emergency assistance on behalf of himself/herself, another student, or someone else who appears to be experiencing an alcohol emergency, will not be subject to conduct action under UAB Student Housing & Residential Life Conduct Procedure and the UAB Non-Academic Student Conduct Policy, except when it has been determined that another violation of university policy has occurred (for example, destruction of university property, fire safety violation, physical harm to another student, etc.).

In order for this policy to apply, the student must agree to complete recommendations made by the Coordinator of Non-Academic Student Conduct.  The Coordinator of Non-Academic Student Conduct may issue educational requirements such as alcohol education and/or alcohol assessment.  Failure to complete recommended requirements may result in conduct action.

Procedure

Subsequent to an event that required medical attention, as a result of alcohol use, a UAB student who is eligible to receive medical amnesty, must complete and submit a written request.  Request forms are available in the Office of Non-Academic Student Conduct, HUC, Room 136, and must be submitted within five (5) calendar days of the incident.  The Coordinator of Non-Academic Student Conduct will meet with the student to discuss the student’s request for medical amnesty. Medical Amnesty will not be granted to students who do not seek medical assistance.  This policy applies only to those students or organizations who seek medical assistance in  connection to an  alcohol related medical emergency and  does not apply to individuals who are found by University employees (e.g., UAB Police, faculty, administrative staff, or residence hall staff), or where the reporting student(s)/organization did not stay with them.  Students who are confronted by university staff (RA, or UAB Police as an example) can be referred to the Office of Non-Academic Student Conduct for conduct action.   

If the student qualifies for medical amnesty, no conduct action will be taken.  A student who is referred for professional services, and who fails to comply with the referral instructions, or a student determined to be in need of a medical or mental health leave may be subject to additional requirements.

If a registered student is transported to an emergency medical treatment center for alcohol intoxication, the student's parents or guardians may be notified by the Assistant Vice President for Student Life, if that is believed necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others.

If a student is involved in a subsequent (i.e., repeat) alcohol incident, the circumstances will be evaluated by the Assistant Vice President for Student Life and/or the Coordinator of Non-Academic Student Conduct to determine if the student qualifies for medical amnesty. Serious or repeated alcohol incidents will prompt a higher degree of medical concern.  The availability of medical amnesty for students with repetitive violations will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

While this policy applies to individual students, in circumstances where an organization is found to be hosting an event where medical assistance is sought for a guest, a student/ organization is required to remain with the student experiencing the medical emergency until medical assistance arrives.  The organization will be eligible to apply for medical amnesty.  If amnesty is granted, no organization conduct record will be created but educational interventions will be expected.  If an organization has been found in violation of the university’s alcohol policy, then the organization’s willingness to seek medical assistance for another person may be viewed as a mitigating factor if or when sanctions are issued.

This policy applies only to the UAB Student Housing & Residential Life Conduct Procedures and the UAB Non-Academic Student Conduct Policy. Law enforcement agencies may act within their jurisdictions in enforcing the laws enacted by the State of Alabama, the United States, or any other state or nation where jurisdiction may be invoked.

Questions
Questions regarding the Medical Amnesty Policy should be directed to:
Assistant Vice President for Student Life
(205) 934-4175

Or
Coordinator of Non-Academic Student Conduct
(205) 975-4412

Frequently Asked Questions: UAB Medical Amnesty Policy
What Is the Purpose of the Medical Amnesty Policy?
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is committed to promoting a safe and healthy environment for all students. The Medical Amnesty Policy is designed to encourage students to make responsible decisions and seek prompt, professional, medical assistance and treatment in serious or life-threatening situations that result from alcohol abuse such as alcohol poisoning. The Medical Amnesty Policy seeks to diminish fear of conduct sanctions in such situations and to encourage individuals and organizations to seek needed medical attention for students in distress from alcohol use.

How Does the Medical Amnesty Policy Work?
In serious or life-threatening situations, particularly where alcohol poisoning is suspected or where other medical treatment is reasonably believed to be appropriate, students are asked to take the following steps:
Call 911 or UAB Police at 934-3535.
Stay with the person needing assistance until help arrives.
Be prepared to give the emergency medical personnel as much information as possible including the amount and type of alcohol or substances consumed.
If a student is so intoxicated s/he is unable to be awakened, letting that person "sleep it off" is not a reasonable alternative to getting him/her the necessary medical help.

What Happens After Medical Help Is Provided?
The following next steps outline the process after medical help is provided to students in need of medical attention as a result of alcohol use:
1. The situation is first evaluated by The Office of Student Engagement to determine if the Medical Amnesty Policy applies.
2. If the situation qualifies, students are required to meet with a Non-Academic Student Conduct Hearing Officer.
3. The Non-Academic Student Conduct Hearing Officer, after evaluating the situation, may refer the student to a substance abuse specialist for assessment, counseling, and/or possible referral for treatment. The student may also be requested to participate in an educational activity or program.
Students who are referred but fail to meet and complete the recommendations in their entirety may be subject to additional requirements after an opportunity to meet with a Non-Academic Student Conduct Hearing Officer.

Will My Parents Find Out?
Possibly. If a registered student is transported to an emergency medical treatment center for alcohol use, the student's parents or guardians may be notified by a phone call from a staff member in The Office of Student Engagement if necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.

Does the Medical Amnesty Policy Protect Students from Police or Legal Actions?
No. The Medical Amnesty Policy only applies to the UAB Student Code of Conduct, Student Housing & Residential Life Community Standards, and Greek Life policies. It does not prevent or preclude police or other legal actions.

Will Incidents Involving the Medical Amnesty Policy Be on My Academic Record?
No. Medical Amnesty Policy incidents will not be entered on the student's official academic record.

Does the Medical Amnesty Policy Cover Student Groups and Organizations?
If a representative of a UAB student organization hosting an event calls for medical assistance, this act of responsibility might mitigate potential Student Code of Conduct consequences, i.e., the fact that an organization sought help will be favorably considered in potential sanctioning for university policy violations. UAB student organizations involved in an incident must agree to take recommended steps to address concerns. In appropriate situations as determined in the conduct process, mitigation could result in the requirement of participation in an educational program or educational activities rather than other non-academic conduct consequences.

What Does the Medical Amnesty Policy Apply To?
The Medical Amnesty Policy applies to the following situations:
UAB students who initiate and seek assistance and/or medical treatment on behalf of him- or herself, another student, or a friend experiencing an alcohol related emergency.
UAB students' use of alcohol where medical attention is needed.
UAB students who are a victim of sexual assault and have also engaged in underage alcohol consumption.

What Does the Medical Amnesty Policy NOT Apply To?
Other prohibited behavior such as illegal distribution of illicit substances, harassment, or assault.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Times the Medical Amnesty Policy Can Be Used?
No. Students are always encouraged to look after their friends and peers, and are encouraged to take responsible actions anytime they are necessary.
However, if a student is involved in repeat alcohol abuse incidents, the following will occur:
1. The situation will be evaluated by The Office of Student Engagement to determine if the student qualifies for medical amnesty.
2. The availability of medical amnesty for students with repetitive violations will be determined on a case by case basis.
3. Situations will be handled through the regular conduct process and will be considered for sanctioning purposes if a student does not demonstrate a commitment to the recommended steps and is involved in repetitive alcohol abuse incidents.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is another term for an alcohol overdose, which may occur when individuals consume so much alcohol that their bodies can no longer process it fast enough. Alcohol poisoning and overdoses are potentially lethal; the human body simply cannot tolerate or process excessive amounts of alcohol. Too many college students have died as a result of alcohol poisoning.

What Are the Signs or Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose?
The signs or symptoms of alcohol poisoning include (not all of these need to be present):
Confusion or stupor
Vomiting while passed out, not waking up after vomiting, or incoherent while vomiting
Seizures
Breathing is slow (less than 8 breaths per minute) or irregular, with 10 seconds or more between breaths
Weak pulse, very rapid pulse, or very slow pulse
Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
Loss of consciousness: Inability to awaken a person with loud shouting, or inability of a person to remain awake for more than 2-3 minutes or to carry on a coherent conversation when awake (semi-conscious)
*A person who has lost consciousness and cannot be awakened is in danger of dying. Help is needed immediately.

How Do I Help a Friend Who Might Be Experiencing Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose?
1. Call 911 or UAB Police at 934-3535. Then (if you are in the residence halls) call or send someone else to notify your RA on duty, but don't leave the person alone.
2. Stay with the person until emergency help arrives.
3. Be prepared to give the emergency medical personnel as much information as possible including the amount and type of alcohol or substances consumed.

What Should I NOT Do When Helping Someone Experiencing Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose?
Do not hesitate to call 911 or UAB Police at 934-3535. The person's life is in danger. Better to be safe than sorry.
Do not leave the person alone. The person may seem to be okay, but the alcohol ingested may take some time to be absorbed before peak levels are reached in the brain.
Do not try to give the person anything to eat or drink.
Do not put the person in a cold shower. The person could fall or the shock could make him/her pass out.
Don't just let him or her "sleep it off."

How to Help a Friend Who Has Had Too Much to Drink
Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. If someone has had too much to drink or hurt him or herself while drinking, call 911 or UAB Police at 934-3535 immediately and stay with the person until help arrives. In cases of a potential head injury, even if the person regains consciousness, he or she must be evaluated immediately.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
If person is experiencing ANY of these signs, call 911 or UAB Police at 934-3535.
Inability to rouse the person with loud shouting
Vomiting while passed out, not waking up after vomiting, or incoherent while vomiting
Inability of a person who was passed out to stay awake for more than 2-3 minutes
Breathing is slow (less than 8 breaths per minute) or irregular, with 10 seconds or more between breaths
Weak pulse, very rapid pulse, or very slow pulse
Cold, clammy, or bluish skin

What to Do
Call 911 or UAB Police at 934-3535
Stay with the person until help arrives.
Be prepared to give the emergency medical personnel as much information as possible, including any drugs or medications taken.

What Not to Do
Do not hesitate to call 911 or UAB Police at 934-3535. The person's life is in danger. Better to be safe than sorry.
Do not leave the person alone. The person may seem to be okay, but the alcohol ingested may take some time to be absorbed before peak levels are reached in the brain.
Do not try to give the person anything to eat or drink.
Do not put the person in a cold shower. The person could fall or the shock could make him/her pass out.
Don't just let him or her "sleep it off."

Resources
The Office of Student Engagement (205) 975-9509
UAB Police (205) 934-3535 (emergency)
Student Housing & Residential Life (205) 934-2092
The Counseling & Wellness Center (205) 934-5816
Student Health Services (205) 934-3581
Greek Life (205) 934-8020