Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Fought the Law

Let's see if I can make sense of this: a woman was admitted to the hospital, told the folks there that her husband had pushed her, hospital calls police. All normal stuff. But then the woman decides she doesn't want to talk to the police, and the hospital staff decides HIPAA does not allow them to let the police in to interview the woman. They come back with an obstruction of justice warrant, and arrest the case manager. Woman goes home, police never talk to her. Obstruction charges are later dropped, but the arrested case manager sues for false arrest:

Melancon threw out the lawsuit, saying the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act does not block officers from getting information about a crime, and noting that the officers had obtained a warrant for Maier's arrest, meaning that a judge had found probable cause for the charge. He said that provides protection against accusations of false arrest.

It seems like everyone got caught in the machine, here. The police certainly needed to respond to the domestic violence call, and the patient's privacy was protected. In some states the domestic violence laws are strict enough that the cops would not have been allowed any discrection. But even though the charges were dropped, no one ever is edified by being escorted out of their place of employment in handcuffs.
Reading between the lines, I suspect this may have been a motivator:

Maier's attorney, Paul Marx, said Maier was far from the only person who told police that they could not give them the woman's name, but may have been the most vocal.

*Thanks for catching the typo, Jason!

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