Hospital, Police Officials at Odds Over Medical Bills for Injured Suspects
California hospitals and law enforcement officials frequently spar over which entity should pay for the medical care of wounded suspects, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.
Hospital Officials' Stance
Police officers are required to seek medical care for individuals injured while committing a crime or being apprehended. However, hospital officials say police officers sometimes refrain from arresting a wounded suspect so the law enforcement agency will not be on the hook for the suspect's medical costs.
Hospital officials say a section of California's penal code states that law enforcement officials cannot "engage in practices designed to avoid payment of legitimate emergency health care costs for the treatment or examination of persons lawfully in their custody." That provision of the law is slated to be repealed in 2014.
Law Enforcement Officials' Position
Law enforcement agencies often reject hospital charges for the care of wounded suspects, saying that other entities should foot the bill.
The San Diego Police Department typically cites a different section of California's penal code, which states that law enforcement is not responsible for covering the medical care of individuals who have been arrested "prior to being delivered to and received at the county jail or other detention facility for booking."
Andra Brown, lieutenant at the San Diego Police Department, said, "Cities don't have to pay for medical costs prior to being booked in jail, and once they're booked in jail they become the responsibility of the county" (Mohajer, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 4/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.