Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Fought the Law

Oh come on now! Aren't we past this?

Martinez was admitted to University Hospital. Investigators learned through other sources he was there. But when detectives went to the hospital, "hospital staff refused to disclose any information about the defendant, including his presence or absence at the hospital," the affidavit stated.
Martinez was released from the hospital without authorities being notified as they had requested, the affidavit stated.
On Monday, deputies learned Martinez was staying with his mother and called her, notifying her of the arrest warrant and telling her to have her son turn himself in. Instead, Martinez checked into Uni.
Again, federal privacy laws prohibited the hospital from confirming to police whether Martinez was present, even when detectives arrived at the front door with an arrest warrant.

Warrant! Warrant warrant warrant! WARRANT!!!
How hard is it to understand that HIPAA is to protect patient healthcare information privacy, not to provide an excuse to be uncooperative to law enforcement?

Hospitals should be allowed to give basic information to police, according to Salt Lake Deputy District Attorney Kent Morgan. A couple of years ago, Morgan wrote a letter to clarify HIPAA rules and how they pertain to law enforcement.
"A health-care provider can disclose limited information in response to law enforcement's request to identify or locate a suspect," he stated.
Morgan reaffirmed his statement Thursday.
"HIPAA was never designed to hide suspects or to obstruct from police investigations. Rather it was designed to protect the privacy of individuals' records who are receiving medical care," he said.


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