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Rafael Villalobos, shareholder in the firm's Litigation section, comments on the Supreme Court ruling that gives ED providers clarify on blood alcohol level requests in an article in ED Legal Letter.

Risk managers must determine if the request is a lawful one, says Rafael Villalobos, Jr., JD, attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. If a law enforcement officer believes a patient is under the influence, observed a patient operating a motor vehicle, and the patient now is unconscious, ED providers would be within their rights to perform a blood draw and share it with law enforcement. “It would be appropriate to nonetheless request that law enforcement provide a warrant,” Villalobos suggests.

This would provide additional protection to ED providers and the hospital. If law enforcement says there is no time and that the evidence is literally dissipating by the minute, Villalobos says EPs should document the name of the officer involved, names of any witnesses present, and specifics on the representation made by law enforcement related to exigent circumstances. “This provides optimal protection for the providers involved,” Villalobos adds.