Doctor arrested for refusing to draw blood from stabbing suspect
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 27, 2004
A doctor's decision to protect patient privacy and follow hospital policy resulted in his arrest by the Minneapolis police when he refused an officer's request to draw blood from a man suspected in a fatal stabbing.
Police brought the suspect to the Hennepin County Medical Center's emergency department to have his blood-alcohol level tested in the early morning on Aug. 14, but Marc Martel, MD, refused to do so without the man's consent, said Minneapolis Police Public Information Officer Ron Reier. "It was his understanding that he would be violating the doctor-patient relationship," Reier said.
According to a statement released by HCMC, Dr. Martel's refusal was based on his understanding of the hospital's policy for collecting legal evidence that requires a court order to perform invasive procedures when the patient does not consent to the procedure.
After Dr. Martel was taken to police headquarters to be interviewed, police phoned a judge who authorized the blood test, and it was then performed by another physician. Police released Dr. Martel and decided not to pursue misdemeanor obstruction charges against him, Reier said.
HCMC spokeswoman Christine Hill said the hospital is currently reviewing its policy on intrusive procedures to obtain evidence, and Reier emphasized that the police maintain a good working relationship with the hospital.
"It was a misunderstanding, and it's all been cleared up," Reier said.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/09/27/prbf0927.htm.