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Authors

Bianca Valdez

Abstract

Intoxicated driving claims more than 10,000 lives per year. In efforts to combat this devastating statistic, states have enacted laws that permit law enforcement officers to order warrantless blood draws from suspects of driving under the influence. In doing so, law enforcement officers seek the assistance of medical personnel to carry out the phlebotomy process. While medical personnel are obliged to assist law enforcement with their investigations, they also have an ethical duty to their patient and a legal duty to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. What are the legal implications when the suspect becomes the patient? Oftentimes, medical personnel are left struggling to determine how to appropriately respond to law enforcement officers’ requests for blood draws where there is no court order or warrant. Such requests can trigger a wide range of compliance issues. What is the interest that prevails? Is it the privacy interests of the individual as a patient; the interests of healthcare providers in protecting the privacy of patients in their health records; or the interests of the state to deter intoxicated driving? This comment surveys current federal regulation, recent Supreme Court Jurisprudence and state law as it relates to this nexus of patient care and law enforcement.

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