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Chirurg. 2004 Apr;75(4):436-41.

[Emergent surgery for body packing - what happens to the drugs?].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Abt. Chirurgie I, Universit√§tsklinik der Universit√§t Ulm.


Body packing is a well recognized method of drug trafficking by smuggling drug containers in the gastrointestinal tract. Medical professionals might get involved with body packers after presentation by law enforcement or in case of medical emergencies such as drug overdose or mechanical intestinal obstruction due to the containers within the gastrointestinal tract. Besides the medical aspects in treating these patients, physicians must be aware of all the different legal specifics in dealing with body packers. In case of medical emergencies, drug traffickers have the legal status of regular patients with respect to professional medical discretion. The question remains of what physicians should do with the drugs after surgical removal? Even though the body packer remains the legal owner of the drugs, physicians may not return the drugs, since that constitutes the criminal offence of dealing in narcotics. Returning the drugs to law enforcement authorities is also prohibited because of professional medical discretion. The only way out of this predicament is for physicians to destroy the drugs under the observation of witnesses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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