Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle

April 09, 1998

STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
v.
BAPTIST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL-GOLDEN TRIANGLE



DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/13/96 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LEE J. HOWARD COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roberts, Justice

DISPOSITION REVERSED AND REMANDED - 4/9/98

EN BANC.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

The State of Mississippi appeals unto this Court an order issued by the Circuit Court of Lowndes County quashing a grand jury subpoena duces tecum and a search warrant issued as part of a criminal investigation of a homicide. The documents requested information regarding medical records of patients of the Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle (BMH-GT) who had been treated for lacerations during a specified time period. The hospital refused to comply with the subpoena duces tecum and the search warrant based on Miss. Code Ann. § 13-1-21, physician-patient privilege. After a hearing on the issue, the lower court quashed both the subpoena duces tecum and the search warrant based on the medical privilege found at Miss. Code Ann. § 13-1-21 and Miss. R. Evid. 503. The State of Mississippi appeals unto this Court raising the following issue:

I. WHETHER MISS. CODE ANN. § 13-1-21 AND MISS. R. EVID. 503 MUST BE READ IN PARI MATERIA WITH OTHER STATUTORY PROVISIONS WHICH CREATE EXCEPTIONS TO THE PHYSICIAN-PATIENT PRIVILEGE.

The public interest in effective and efficient investigations into criminal activity outweighs the privacy rights of the individuals who would be affected by the subpoena duces tecum and the search warrant. This case is reversed and remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court's opinion. These instructions are given so that criminal investigation will not be impeded and the privacy rights of the state's citizenry will not be unnecessarily infringed.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

On July 8, 1996, the Columbus Police Department was called to the home of Mack Fowler. Upon arriving at Fowler's home, the police determined that Fowler had been stabbed to death. Police found a broken bottle with jagged edges at the crime scene that was covered with what appeared to the investigating officers to be blood. The Police were not sure if the perpetrator had used the bottle to strike the victim or if the victim had attempted to defend himself with the bottle against the attack of the perpetrator. Further, the Police did not know whether the blood came from the perpetrator or the victim. At the time of the lower court proceeding the tests determining the source of the blood on the bottle had not been returned from the Mississippi Crime Lab.

Notwithstanding the uncertainty of the source of the blood, the Police determined that the perpetrator had probably been injured during the commission of the crime and sought treatment at a hospital for those injuries. The Police secured a grand jury subpoena duces tecum on July 16, 1996, seeking

ANY AND ALL MEDICAL RECORDS PERTAINING TO ANY PATIENTS ADMITTED OR TREATED BY BAPTIST MEMORIAL IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM OR PRIMARY CARE UNIT ON THE 8TH DAY OF JULY, 1996 THROUGH AND INCLUDING THE 9TH DAY OF JULY, 1996, INVOLVING ANY AND ALL CUTS AND LACERATIONS INFLICTED ON ANY PART OF THE PATIENTS' BODY.

This grand jury subpoena duces tecum was served upon the custodian of the records at the BMH-GT. However, the custodian refused to provide this information citing patient confidentiality.

Subsequently, on July 31, 1996, the Police sought and received a search warrant from a local magistrate. The search warrant was served on the BMH-GT and sought "[a] list of any and all patient's names and addresses who were treated for any cuts or lacerations to any part of their body by Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle, Primary Care or in the Emergency Room on July 8, 1996, though July 16, 1996." BMH-GT refused to comply with the search warrant based on patient privilege.

BMH-GT filed a petition to quash the grand jury subpoena duces tecum and the search warrant with the Circuit Court of Lowndes County. In the petition BMH-GT claimed the requested medical information was privileged from disclosure by Miss. Code Ann. § 13-1-21(1) and Miss. R. Evid. 503(b).

Following a hearing on BMH-GT's petition, the Circuit Court of Lowndes County entered an order quashing the grand jury subpoena duces tecum and the search warrant served upon BMH-GT on the basis that the medical records and medical information were, in fact, protected from disclosure by the medical privileges found at Miss. Code Ann. § 13-1-21 and Miss. R. Evid. 503. It is from this lower court order that the State of Mississippi has appealed unto this Court.

DISCUSSION OF THE ISSUE

I. WHETHER MISS. CODE ANN. § 13-1-21 AND MISS. R. EVID. 503 MUST BE READ IN PARI MATERIA WITH OTHER STATUTORY PROVISIONS WHICH CREATE EXCEPTIONS TO THE PHYSICIAN-PATIENT PRIVILEGE.

The lower court quashed the subpoena duces tecum and the search warrant after holding that the information sought in those documents was privileged from disclosure pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. ยง 13-1-21(1) and Miss. R. Evid. 503(b). Therefore, the circuit Judge ruled as a matter of law that BMH-GT could not disclose the requested ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.