CHART SMART: When your patient is in police custody

February 2004 
Volume 34  Number 2
Pages 23 - 23
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    A PATIENT in custody of the police or another law enforcement agency may enter the hospital for medical or surgical treatment or for psychiatric care. Follow your facility's policy for caring for such a patient, including safety considerations (such as removing objects that the patient could use to harm himself or others) and privacy guidelines in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Keep in mind that the accompanying officer isn't permitted to make decisions about the patient's medical treatment. Assuming the patient is competent, he has the right to make his own treatment decisions, including refusal of treatment.

    If blood, urine, or other samples are collected for evidence, make sure they aren't left unattended. Follow your facility's guidelines for using a chain of custody form (an uninterrupted log of the whereabouts of evidence). Document the name and badge number of ...

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