Questions arise after chase suspect released from hospital


by Alex Schuman

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 12:03 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 6 at 5:30 AM

HARRISON COUNTY, Ind. (WHAS11) – Police claim a high-speed chase on Monday could have been avoided with a phone call.

One of the individuals involved in a multi-county chase had already been wanted by police for a different chase back in February.  Ian Goebel led police on different chase, which ended with police shooting Goebel. 

The suspect was sent to University Hospital to be treated.

“We requested a hold on him and to notify us that he was being released,” said Deputy Chief Wayne Kessinger.  “Which [has been] the past practice forever.  I’ve been doing this for 45 years and there’s never been an issue.”

Two weeks after Goebel was taken to University Kessinger called the hospital and learned they released him a couple days before the officer’s call.

“They said, ‘We can't tell you anything.’  And I said, 'What do you mean you can't tell me anything?' And they said, 'Well, our operating procedures have changed since KentuckyOne took over."

Kessinger claims a supervisor then explained the new policy was put in place to avoid violating HIPPA.

“I said, ‘I don't care what he's treated for.  I don't care what his illness is.  I just asked to be notified when you're gonna let him walk out the backdoor," Kessinger.

WHAS contacted University Hospital.  The spokesman David McArthur was not aware of any new policy that would prevent police from being notified, but pointed out HIPPA prevents hospital staff from discussing any specific case without the patient’s information.

We did look into the policy ourselves and found some public examples of KentuckyOne’s HIPPA policies, and they do not reflect what the chief was told. 

Screenshots of the different policies are in the sidebar of this article.

HIPPA policies explained on the Jewish Hospital, KentuckyOne’s Anywhere Care site, and the basic policies laid out by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services clearly warn patients their information can be released to law enforcement.

The HHS site also addresses this exact situation:

“The Privacy Rule permits a HIPAA covered entity, such as a hospital, to disclose certain protected health information, including the date and time of admission and discharge, in response to a law enforcement official’s request, for the purpose of locating or identifying a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person.”

McArthur did say KentuckyOne’s policies match federal regulations.

“But I don’t know why they’ve changed their policy and haven’t talked to any law enforcement about it,” said Kessinger.

The hospital is no way responsible for making sure the person stays in police custody.  Kessinger said he did not station a guard, which is normal procedure for police, because his small 22 person staff does not allow for guarding a suspect at all times, indefinitely.

"They're not guarding him. They're not hiding him. They're not protecting him,” Kessinger said.  “All they're doing is notifying me that his paperwork’s being done to be released.” 

“And if we there in time fine - if we [are not] fine,” Kessinger said.  “But I can assure you once we get notified we will get someone there to get him when he comes out the backdoor."

We were not able to contact McArthur until after the news conference with Harrison County, which meant it was after regular business hours.  He said he plans to look into the issue further and contact WHAS Tuesday. 

KentuckyOne will also call Kessinger.