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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, HIPAA, patient privacy, privacy rights, warrants, blood


Law enforcement is often left struggling with determining how to appropriately respond to nurses who refuse their request to collect a suspect’s blood when that patient is suspected of intoxicated driving and the officer has a valid search warrant. These scenarios trigger compliance issues including a patient’s right to privacy and consent, “particularly when a medical entity’s compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) provisions directly conflicts with law enforcement needs and goals.” Once a suspect becomes a patient, whose interest prevails? Is it healthcare providers’ interest in abiding by the rights, health, and safety of their patients, or is it the State of Arkansas’s interest in deterring intoxicated driving? This Comment serves as a call on the Arkansas State Legislature to address the rising tensions between the medical field and law enforcement field by eliminating the broad discretion granted to medical providers which unjustly blocks the goals of law enforcement and to provide guidance, protection, and confidence to nurses in understanding their roles and responsibilities when acting for the state.