Prue McLardie-Hore says she was celebrating her 20th birthday at a bar on Melbourne’s Brunswick Street the first time she had her drink spiked.
“A man approached me at the bar, he must have said something to me — I turned my back on my drink,” she said.
“Twenty minutes later, I was outside screaming ‘I’ve been spiked, I’ve been spiked’.”
The 24-year-old Melbourne law student was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department by her mother, where she experienced hallucinations and paranoia.
“I thought I saw the man who I presumed to have spiked me in the hospital,” she said.
When Ms McLardie-Hore’s mother, Fiona, asked the hospital to drug-test her daughter, she said the nurses told her to “think carefully” about the potential consequences for Prue.
“They said if you test positive for something, that could go on your permanent record, and that can affect future job prospects in cases where you have to declare that you’ve taken drugs,” Fiona McLardie-Hore said.
“I said, but she’s been spiked, she hasn’t chosen to take this. And they just said, ‘well, you can’t prove that’.”
Employment lawyers at legal firm Maurice Blackburn have told the ABC that patient consent is usually required before any medical records can be disclosed.
Fiona, who is also a registered nurse, said she was “shocked” by the advice.
“I just thought, this has been done to her and we don’t know what she’s been given. And basically, we’re not allowed to know what was given to her,” she said.
Concerned it would derail any future career in law, Prue McLardie-Hore never ended up getting tested, nor did she report the incident to police.
“Because of the hospital’s response, I thought there would be a similar response from other institutions — I didn’t feel comfortable pursuing it,” she said.
“I was very worried that it would go against my record and potentially affect my future employment.”
In a statement, a St Vincent’s spokesperson said the hospital acknowledged the seriousness of drink spiking and tried in all suspected cases to respond with supportive medical care.
“As a hospital, we carry out toxicology screening for medical purposes, where required to determine the appropriate course of care. Toxicology results are protected by patient confidentiality,” the spokesperson said.
It would end up taking Prue more than a week to physically recover.
But just a couple of years later, when she said her drink was spiked a second time, Ms McLardie-Hore decided against going to a hospital.
Instead, she went to a private lab to get tested.
Having taken the nurse’s warning to heart, it was an off-the-books drug screening — conducted to give her peace of mind about what she’d taken, but with the added plus of not leaving an official record.
She said she tested positive for benzodiazepines, with the drug most likely to be Rohypnol.
This time around, Ms McLardie-Hore said she was “completely knocked out” after just one drink.
“I thought I had done everything that you’re supposed to do to protect yourself. And the fact that it had happened again was really upsetting,” she said.
A few days after the suspected spiking, Fiona reported the incident to police and handed over security footage from the venue, but never heard back.
Police told the ABC it was ultimately deemed “non-suspicious” by investigators.
For Kalli Horomidis, the response to her daughter’s suspected drink spiking has been similarly frustrating.
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