Hands Off in the ER: Why Law Enforcement Officers Should Avoid Arresting Hospital Staff
Category: Law Enforcement
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement officers. It deals with what to do—and not do–when hospital staff is less than cooperative.
Don’t make an arrest. And don’t even threaten to. Explore other options. Call your supervisor. Talk with the hospital supervisor. Get a warrant.
I hear these stories all over the place. “They refused to tell me if my victim was even in the hospital.” “The nurse wouldn’t draw blood when I ordered him to.” “Staff at this hospital seem to hate cops.”
Now, pause for a second. Remember that on-duty doctors and nurses are literally helping sick, injured, and dying people–right now.
I’m sure you remember the headlines – and that video – from last year. Suffice it to say that some battles are worth fighting. Some aren’t. Some situations call for an immediate arrest. Many don’t.
But this issue is bigger than just blood draws. What should you do if you think an on-duty nurse or doctor is breaking the law—but following hospital policy? But, Gordon, you don’t understand. They’re obstructing my investigation. My state’s law says…… blah blah blah.
Is immediate enforcement action necessary to prevent physical harm to someone? Probably not. So, don’t make an arrest. And don’t even threaten to. Explore other options. Call your supervisor. Talk with the hospital supervisor. Get a warrant.
Hospital administrators operate under very complex laws and regulations. Sometimes it seems like patient privacy laws and state criminal laws are not in perfect harmony.
If you think that hospital policy conflicts with the law, arresting one person won’t help. But Gordon, we have to send a message … blah blah blah. Instead, bring it to the attention of your supervisor. If you think that probable cause exists, thoroughly document the incident. Let the prosecutor decide.
Except in the most extreme circumstances, don’t arrest an on-duty doctor or nurse. We have enough to deal with.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off.