Crystal Ferguson

Crystal Ferguson

Plaintiff Crystal Ferguson tested positive for cocaine after her urine was secretly searched during her first visit to MUSC in June 1991. As her medical records establish, it was not until the day after her urine was searched that she was given any information about the hospital's cocaine policy. Nurse Shirley Brown then reported the positive search result to the police.

Although Ms. Ferguson was willing to obtain treatment, she was unable to enter an inpatient program because of her responsibilities for her two children at home. On August 4, 1991, Ms. Ferguson was admitted to MUSC and delivered her daughter by cesarean section later that day. A urine sample taken on the day of admission was positive for cocaine. Notes in the medical record indicate that Ms. Ferguson declined inpatient drug treatment but agreed to begin outpatient treatment.

"I had no problem with getting treatment, my problem was I couldn't go inpatient because I had two other children . . . At the time I was told they had no outpatient [services] and I needed to go to inpatient immediately."

Because of her inability to attend inpatient treatment, a warrant was issued for her arrest on August 7, 1991. However, because Ms. Ferguson was still weak from giving birth and her mother had died shortly before the delivery, hospital personnel agreed to permit Ms. Ferguson to return home, and police arranged that she would turn herself in for arrest in three weeks. Only after she gave birth did the hospital refer Ms. Ferguson to an outpatient program; she was scheduled to begin the program on the day she turned herself in to the police.

"My appointment for substance abuse was at 10 o'clock. I went to see them [the police] at 9 o'clock . . . He read me my rights and put me in the holding cell."