Sometimes law enforcement personnel have to get involved with situations that involve medical conditions. People who are hurt while committing criminal intent purposes, victims of abuse, or neglect, or assault are part of this group. You can also include those who are hurt as a result of drug abuse, or a traffic accident that can be subject to an investigation.
Investigations require the investigator to ask questions to both the patient and the person providing treatment to the patient. Authorities have the ability to request the medical records of a patient who they are taking into custody.
How does the U.S. Military cooperate with federal and state law enforcement?
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1956 says that it is unlawful for the U.S. military to be used to enforce or assist in the enforcement of federal or state civil laws. However, the real question is:
“Is the medical procedure being done on this patient for a legitimate medical reason, or is it only being performed to assist civil law enforcement?”
When is it ok to share medical records with civil law enforcement?
If there is a reasonable medical justification for the procedure, the results may be okay to share with civil law enforcement officials.
Cooperation with law enforcement is required in this case. As long as there are no medical contraindications patients who are suspected of committing a crime will be made available to speak with investigators. However, access to medical records is still governed by the Privacy Act and FOIA.
Who decides who to allow access to medical records during investigations?
US Navy investigators are allowed the privilege to patient medical records on a need to know basis. This decision will be made by the hospital JAG or the public affairs officer (PAO).
What other departments may request access to patient medical treatment records during a criminal investigation?
Other departments of defense, federal, state, or local law enforcement officers may also have access to treatment records if it is necessary for the criminal investigation and as long as there’s no violation of the privacy rights of the individual involved.
Local health and social service departments may also be provided the medical records and the same guidelines for gaining access to the treatment records applies to the staff members’ conversations with investigating officers.