WellStar’s New Policy on Drawing Blood From Patients
New and Strict Guidelines on Drawing Blood
WellStar Health System has said it will no longer allow its medical staff to draw blood from conscious DUI suspects without their consent. Even though a court order can force a suspect to comply, there is no forcing the hospital to do so.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials in Douglas, Cobb, Paulding and Cherokee counties are criticizing this new policy for hampering in their effort to put drunk drivers away. Even if police have a search warrant, the hospital is not required to comply. Cobb County Solicitor General Barry Morgan told reporters that blood tests can often be the deciding factor in a conviction. Now, without the hospitals cooperation, those convictions may drop.
According to a WellStar spokesperson, the hospital has a long-standing policy to not draw blood samples without patient consent. The policy does not interfere with a law enforcement official or the performance of that official’s duties. That statement may be argued by law enforcement personnel who are not trained or permitted to draw blood.
Officials from the hospital and local law enforcement agencies met last week. As it stands, WellStar will continue to draw blood from unconscious individuals under the implied consent law, provided police have a search warrant, but remains steadfast in its policy to comply with patient wishes when that patient is awake and alert. How this policy will impact DUI convictions in the counties remains to be seen.
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