MCG releases patient facing arrest

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Another South Carolina law enforcement agency is complaining that a patient facing criminal charges left Medical College of Georgia Hospital without police being notified.

Edgefield Police Chief Ronald Carter said the hospital let Joseph Williams leave earlier this week despite knowing he faced pending felony arrest warrants involving two counts of sexual assault on a minor.

In June, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office complained when a murder suspect recovering from gunshot wounds slipped out of the hospital without police being told.

Chief Carter said Friday that Mr. Williams, of Bausket Street, Edgefield, was to be served with warrants Tuesday when he was involved in a wreck near his home. Chief Carter said witnesses said Mr. Williams appeared to have driven his pickup head-on toward an oncoming tractor-trailer. Mr. Williams was taken to MCG for treatment of chest pains, complications with a lung and a broken leg.

"The affidavits had been turned over to the magistrate waiting to be signed when the wreck happened," the chief said. "When he was transported, we notified MCG security, which they told us at the time that the hospital policy was they felt like it was a violation of the HIPAA (federal patient privacy) law to notify us when he was released."

The chief said Mr. Williams is accused of sexual assault involving two girls, now 14 and 15, over several years.

The chief said an MCG security official told his department "... they would try to notify us when he was being released. This was coming from their police department. But he (the MCG security official) told me up front that most of the time the nursing staff will not notify them when somebody is being released. They won't even notify their own people. It's almost like it's intentional.

"Eventually, their policy is going to get somebody hurt or killed."

MCG Hospital officials did not return phone messages left Thursday and Friday.

Chief Carter said the warrants for Mr. Williams' arrest were signed by a judge within hours after the Tuesday wreck, but by Wednesday, he said, Mr. Williams had been released.

Later that night, Aiken County authorities got a call from Mr. Williams.

"Evidently he had left the hospital a little too early," said Aiken County sheriff's Capt. Troy Elwell.

Capt. Elwell said his department learned Mr. Williams was wanted, and he was taken to the county's detention center on Wire Road, receiving medical care there.

Capt. Elwell said it's frustrating to see a second case.

"There's a clause in the HIPAA law that says law enforcement can be notified when charges are pending or charges are brought against, so I don't understand what the issue at hand is," he said.

"But there's definitely a problem."

In the June incident, Alan Sheffield, the director of safety and security for the hospital, said the hospital can't restrict the movement of a patient who hasn't been formally arrested.

Mr. Sheffield said at the time he would encourage police in such matters to "make the appropriate arrest so that an officer may be positioned within the patient's surroundings to ensure that their movements are appropriately confined and they do not depart the hospital prior to being medically discharged by a physician."

Chief Carter said his office doesn't have jurisdiction to provide guards at the Georgia hospital and would have had to call in Richmond County officers once the warrant was signed.

"And we can't hardly request that Richmond County send a deputy other there and just wait pending our charges," he said.

"That's unreasonable to ask of them, I think."

He said he doesn't understand why the hospital can't notify law enforcement when patients with pending charges are released.

"HIPAA protects somebody's rights as far as releasing their medical information," the chief said.

"And we were not requesting any medical information. The only thing we were requesting was please notify us when he is being released so we can arrange to have somebody over there to lock him up."

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, Ext. 110 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com

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ss30809
44
Points
ss30809 08/01/09 - 02:00 am
0
0
If the patient has charges

If the patient has charges against him/her then the police department arresting the patient should be at the patient's beside and place the patient in handcuffs, and then wait WITH the patient until discharged from the hospital. (And if they have no jurisdiction, like in this situation, then they need to request another police dept. wait with the patient...not just leave the patient alone) It is not the responsibility of any hospital to hold a patient in a room so they can be arrested. Furthermore, any patient who is not in police custody or in for a behavioral/psychiatric evaluation has every right to leave the hospital.

DEVGRU
0
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DEVGRU 08/01/09 - 02:09 am
0
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Why can't a hospital figure

Why can't a hospital figure out HIPAA guidelines. I know exactly what is going on. You have a bunch of hospital administrators sitting around a table trying to figure out HIPPA and none of them have the sense to do it. How do I know? I once sat at that table as a police officer and witnessed it. They don't have a clue as to how to conduct security. Whoever is their security chief is obviously a "yes" man or just doesn't know a thing about security. Wake up. This is eventually going to backfire on you MCG. But not to worry, I'm sure you will do an excellent job of covering it up as you always have. And don't be accusing MCG Public Safety. You are seeing the work of MCG Health here not the Public Safety Division.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 08/01/09 - 02:27 am
0
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It is the job of MCG Health

It is the job of MCG Health to maintain a safe environment for patients, visitors, and employees. They should have had an officer watching this individual or made arrangements regardless of whether he was under arrest or not. This is not good security. Someone does not know what they are doing in that hospital. An outside police agency can't be forced to watch a patient. It is the responsiblity of the hospital to keep it's people safe, especially if they have their own security and as long as the suspect is there. Alan Sheffield, you need to find another career. You are not very good at this one. And by the way, you can hold someone for a certain amount of time without a warrant if you have enough probable cause. At least if someone is hurt or killed the citizens of this area have the name of someone to blame.

FedupwithAUG
0
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FedupwithAUG 08/01/09 - 03:01 am
0
0
Yea 1677 as stated "This is

Yea 1677 as stated "This is eventually going to backfire on you MCG". There will be some murder that will win a lawsuit because MCG was charged with false imprisonment. When South Carolina starts paying out their taxpayer money to Georgia’s State and Richmond County Taxpayers for police surveillance of these patients we may see some arrests and extradition. Until the South Carolina Governments understands that Us Georgia Taxpayers are not going to pay for their criminals to have free health care and a free babysitter service (i.e. Richmond County Police) the patients are more then welcome to enjoy the benefits of the HIPAA and discharge when they want. Oh and the local security at the hospital is for the Patients, Staff and Visitors. Get it? Patients are people too. They don’t care if you killed someone they are just concerned with how they recover from their injuries, as it should be. MCG is not the judge and jury. They are there to do a job and get it done right and move on to the next patient.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 08/01/09 - 03:26 am
0
0
You would think the first

You would think the first incident would have been an awakening to some South Carolina official to fund such security on suspected or convicted criminals coming to Georgia State facilities. Instead they blame MCG, which is abiding to Federal HIPAA regulations, for releasing their criminals into the public. It’s called passing the buck. Let’s send them to Argentina.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 08/01/09 - 03:45 am
0
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LAFF 1677. "They should have

LAFF 1677. "They should have had an officer watching this individual or made arrangements regardless of whether he was under arrest or not." Your are an idiot. This guy "faced pending felony arrest warrants involving two counts of sexual assault on a minor." He was not arrested! Because if he was his bills would have been paid by South Carolina government, which they chose not to do. But since they decided they didn't want to pay for his healthcare or police monitoring he was discharged. Hence, they should have "made arrangements". Someone in South Carolina F^%$d up.

FedupwithAUG
0
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FedupwithAUG 08/01/09 - 03:52 am
0
0
Oh and Alan Sheffield could

Oh and Alan Sheffield could use some advice. Post security at all entrances after hours. They should have some sort of pass system that allows them to track visitor, especially after hours.

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 08/01/09 - 06:00 am
0
0
The counties want to take the

The counties want to take the cheap way out and not arrest them until after they've been discharged so they aren't responsible for the hospital bill. Get off the cheap , arrest them, and have a cop with them. I've cared for many prisoners. They're in leg cuffs and have police presence 24/7. Don't blame MCG, blame the counties. BTW: Between Aiken Regional, Self in Greenwood, and all the hospitals in Columbia, why is SC dumping their criminals on the Ga healthcare system?

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 08/01/09 - 06:33 am
0
0
Please, this is clearly MCG's

Please, this is clearly MCG's fault. There is no violation in notifying law enforcement that a suspect is pending discharge. As stated eventually someone will die from this lack of responsible decision making.

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 08/01/09 - 07:08 am
0
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col: If they are a criminal,

col: If they are a criminal, arrest them, and keep a cop with them. It shouldn't be up to the hospital to act as a police force.

DonH
13
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DonH 08/01/09 - 08:10 am
0
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It should be police procedure

It should be police procedure to keep a suspect under police control. As in many large organizations, communication is lacking. Hospitals are no exception. Patients slip through the cracks (and criminals, too!) I always make sure a well person goes with me when I go to a hospital. That's the only way the odds are in my favor that as I walked in, and I will be able to walk out.

tlnvols1
0
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tlnvols1 08/01/09 - 08:31 am
0
0
If he is from SC Take him to

If he is from SC Take him to hospital in SC.Why should tax payers in GA pay?

mad_max
0
Points
mad_max 08/01/09 - 08:38 am
0
0
This problem stems from SC

This problem stems from SC law enforcement dragging their detainees to MCG, BUT NOT PLACING THEM UNDER ARREST SO THAT THEY WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR MEDICAL BILL. It's all about the money. As long as they can dump their patient off at MCG, Ricmond County residents pick up the bill under indigent care. SC agencies want their cake and to eat it too. They don't want to pay the patients bill but they want MCG to be responsible to keep up with the patient even though the patient is not under arrest. As long as the patient is not under arrest then MCG is not responsible to do anything. SC law enforcement should arrest their detainees and then MCG will notify them before the patient is discharged. SC can then pick up their prisoner and pay the bill and pay the bill on the way out the door. This is NOT MCGs problem as long as SC law enforcement refuses to arrest their detainees and be responsible for their bill.

UncleBill
6
Points
UncleBill 08/01/09 - 08:54 am
0
0
I don't work at MCG any more,

I don't work at MCG any more, but having been in health care all my adult life, I don't have any problem at all calling the law to come pick up someone who is being charged, etc. The problem is that if the patient wants to leave I can't hold them back. If the police want to make sure someone does not leave they need to arrest them and post a guard or take them away to the jail house.

sgachief
0
Points
sgachief 08/01/09 - 09:45 am
0
0
the exact same problem exists

the exact same problem exists with Ga. law enforcement? officials. they don't want to pay the bill, no arrest, dump pt. at hosp., then complain when pt. is released. law agency is at fault, not hosp.

Longtime CSRA resident
1
Points
Longtime CSRA resident 08/01/09 - 09:59 am
0
0
This should answer the

This should answer the question:
Q: Can we notify police when our hospital discharges a patient who is a suspect or has a warrant outfor their arrest?
A: HlPAA allows you to disclose limited information to law
enforcement officials to help them identify or locate a suspect,
fugitive, material witness or missing person. Because this
patient is a suspect, you may notify law enforcement of the
date and time of discharge. Security should also be notified
so they can be aware to assist if needed. Please refer to Procedure # 8422-11-10 "Contact of On Duty Staff Members or Patients By LawEnforcement Agencies."

This comes from a hospital training session on HIPAA Regulations.

Hospitals are even required to call law enforcement when a person shows up with a gunshot wound or appears to be the victim of domestic violence or child abuse.

The hospital seems to be contradicting itself.

ramble
0
Points
ramble 08/01/09 - 10:52 am
0
0
The responsibility lies

The responsibility lies sqaurely on the shoulders of law enforcement. The hospital nor any of it's employees have the right or the ability to hold anyone in the hospital against their will. If the SC police dept wanted this person arrested they should have done it and posted an officer in the room. This is common practice for prisoners. Hospitals, doctors, and nurses have enough to worry about without having to act as wardens too.

noone
4
Points
noone 08/01/09 - 11:04 am
0
0
where in the article does it

where in the article does it say that police have an individual in custody and "dropps them off" at the hospital? It says that these people have warrants. You can have a warrant out for your arrest and not be in custody.

noone
4
Points
noone 08/01/09 - 11:06 am
0
0
The police are not asking

The police are not asking hospital staff to hold suspects. they are asking for notification upon release.

Little Lamb
43350
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/09 - 11:07 am
0
0
South Carolina law

South Carolina law enforcement agencies are using us saps in Georgia to pay for the medical care of their prisoners. If the SC policemen will not secure their prisoners and suspects, then they deserve to be laughingstocks while we taxpaying Georgians cry all the way to the poorhouse.

irish62009
0
Points
irish62009 08/01/09 - 11:21 am
0
0
Medical personnel are not

Medical personnel are not cops and should not have to keep up with law offenders.If the SC police want to make sure they don't leave they need to post,and pay,a officer to stay with them.How would the public feel if one of there family members died because their nurse was chasing after some perp.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 08/01/09 - 11:29 am
0
0
Fedupwithaug. I am an idiot?

Fedupwithaug. I am an idiot? No I have many years of experience with hospital security. Most of it at MCG. So if Ted Bundy was in the hospital and not under arrest I guess you would just let him murder a few people huh? It is the responsibilty of MCG to protect their people even if another agency doesn't care. They should have had someone guarding the man. If he rapes somebody in the hospital what are they supposed to say, "It's not our fault because he's not our problem because another agency didn't want to guard him so we don't care. Bad business, but it is a typical MCG Administration response. I worked with some of these people for 8 years as an investigator there. I know what I am talking about. Alan Sheffield is controlled by the administration. Poor guy. That is why I left. I have some morales and care about the people who work there.

noone
4
Points
noone 08/01/09 - 11:38 am
0
0
ILL ASK AGAIN!! where in the

ILL ASK AGAIN!! where in the article does it say that police have an individual in custody and "dropps them off" at the hospital? It says that these people have warrants. You can have a warrant out for your arrest and not be in custody.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 08/01/09 - 11:48 am
0
0
You can also not have a

You can also not have a warrant and still hold an individual for a certain amount of time until a warrant is obtained. Also, HIPAA guidelines address the issue of notifying law enforcement. It is not a violation in a case such as this. This guy was having sex with minors. Here he was in the hospital with no supervision. I remember once when an individual molested a patient in a hospital bed at MCG.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 08/01/09 - 11:54 am
0
0
To the individual who wrote,

To the individual who wrote, "Medical personnel are not cops and should not have to keep up with law offenders.If the SC police want to make sure they don't leave they need to post,and pay,a officer to stay with them.How would the public feel if one of there family members died because their nurse was chasing after some perp". MCG has security personnel for the purpose of protecting those in the hospital. No one is asking medical personnel to chase or guard criminals. It is the job of the security chief to handle this. It is obvious that he doesn't want to or is not allowed to do his job as he was hired to do. You would be surprised at some of the administraions decisions over the years.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 08/01/09 - 01:00 pm
0
0
1677, you didn't learn too

1677, you didn't learn too much as a hospital security employee, you must be in law enforcement now. Probably in South Carolina.

Little Lamb
43350
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/09 - 01:36 pm
0
0
Why is South Carolina law

Why is South Carolina law enforcement dumping their suspects at MCG? Don't they have hospitals in SC? It's a scam to get Georgia taxpayers to pay their criminals' medical expenses.

Little Lamb
43350
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/09 - 01:40 pm
0
0
The story's first sentence

The story's first sentence says, "Another South Carolina law enforcement agency IS COMPLAINING that a patient facing criminal charges left Medical College of Georgia Hospital without police being notified." The law enforcement agency should not be complaining. It is the citizens of Georgia who should be complaining. Edgefield Police Chief Ronald Carter is derelict in his duty.

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 08/01/09 - 04:07 pm
0
0
The person had not be

The person had not be arrested but was facing charges. Until he is charged it was not law enforcement responsibility to guard him. The hospital could have notified them of this person pending discharge.

jamie8706
0
Points
jamie8706 08/01/09 - 05:58 pm
0
0
It's not MCG responsibility

It's not MCG responsibility to keep up with people facing charges...maybe if the police arrest them first then they could havean police at their side at all times or maybe South Carolina should keep their people in their own state.

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