facebook
twitter
search
search

Missing Ore. man was in hospital

March 8, 2013 at 8:57 PM

SALEM, Ore., March 8 (UPI) -- Police efforts to find a missing 81-year-old Oregon man were slowed by a privacy law that kept hospital staff from telling officers they were treating him.

Police called Salem Hospital Monday to inquire if Thomas Dill, who has diabetes and had been reported missing by concerned neighbors, had turned up there. But the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which strictly regulates the use and disclosure of patient information, precluded the staff from disclosing he was being treated there, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.

Police finally learned the Salem man was at the hospital Wednesday after being tipped off by an anonymous caller, the newspaper said.

"It's a cumbersome law," Salem police Lt. Steve Birr said. "When I managed the missing persons caseload, one of the difficult things is that we have people with mental illnesses, and they could end up in a mental health facility and you would never know it and they would never tell you."

Salem Hospital spokeswoman Sherryll Hoar told the newspaper the law is "very specific about what we can give to police."

"It's not like we are trying to block anything, but there are certain channels under HIPAA," she said.

Birr said the law can put both the police and the hospital in a tough situation. Police didn't need information about Dill's condition and knowing he was a patient would have saved taxpayer dollars and alleviated the worry for Dill's friends, he said.

Dill has since been transferred to an adult care facility.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Kim Jong Un had terrapin farm manager executed, says source
More than 80 percent of North Korean defectors are women, says report
North Korea requests medical aid from U.N. agencies
Encroaching sea levels endanger Pakistan's Indus Delta
Kenyan bishop warns Obama against pro-gay policy