News release: Health care, law enforcement partner to enhance safety

News Release
April 16, 2018

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Health care, law enforcement partner to enhance safety

Minnesota’s law enforcement community and health care providers have released a statewide road map for improving collaboration and communication when caring for individuals who need health care while involved with law enforcement.

In August 2016, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) and Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) convened the Health Care and Law Enforcement Coalition to improve communication and better protect patients, law enforcement and health care staff. This statewide coalition includes hospitals and health systems, police departments, county sheriff offices, hospital emergency medical services and government agencies.

“Protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans is a core component of the Department of Health’s mission,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We applaud this coalition for its dedication and excellent work designing strategies for improved communication and enhanced patient and staff protections.”

Now, the coalition is releasing a new road map for caring for patients involved with law enforcement. The road map includes a collection of best practices and tools for health care and law enforcement stakeholders that includes sample policies, procedures, court orders and other resources. The road map is designed to help law enforcement and care providers safely provide care. It clarifies roles and responsibilities in situations such as when an incarcerated person is brought to a hospital by law enforcement for evaluation or treatment; health care staff call law enforcement personnel for assistance; or other instances where the professions collaborate to care for patients in health care settings.

 “The sheriff’s association is proud to be a member of the coalition. We recognize that we must work together to assure the safety of the patient, hospital staff, the community and the great men and women who work in law enforcement,” said Bill Hutton, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association.

The road map also provides guidance on how a hospital or health system and local law enforcement partners can meet regularly to develop working relationships, make security and communications plans and prepare for potentially urgent or emergency situations.

“Through this coalition, we have all developed a better understanding of and response to situations when health care and law enforcement come together,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, the Minnesota Hospital Association’s chief medical officer. “Hospitals are places of healing, but they can also be places of great stress. By anticipating and preparing, we can ensure that the interactions of health care and law enforcement organizations are aligned in service of our patients, health care providers and law enforcement personnel.”

For example, coalition member Children’s Minnesota helped shape the road map and has fostered a collaborative relationship with law enforcement, with officers employed on its two hospital campus locations. According to the health system, partnership with law enforcement has led to shared knowledge; more streamlined responses to critical incidents; and collaboration on planning, drills, potential high-risk situations and after-action reviews to improve processes moving forward.

Specifically, shared plans that hospitals and their local law enforcement partners will establish include the following:

  • Regular and routine meetings between health care and law enforcement leaders and frontline staff.
  • A prior notification to the health care organization of the arrival of a patient involved with law enforcement, including the exchange of safety information such as the person is “not free to leave” the hospital, whether the person may be violent or assistance is needed from hospital security.
  • Ensuring that a police officer, deputy and/or correction officer is present during the hospital stay if a person is determined to be in “not free to leave” status during the hospital stay due to violence or other public safety factors.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
Minnesota Department of Health Communications

Emily R. Lowther
Minnesota Hospital Association

About MHA, MDH, MSA:
The Minnesota Hospital Association represents 142 hospitals and health systems, which provide quality care for their patients and meet the needs of their communities.

The Minnesota Department of Health is a state agency with a mission to protect, maintain and improve the health of all Minnesotans.

The Minnesota Sheriff’s Association represents the 87 Sheriff’s Offices in Minnesota, providing education, training and leadership develop to its members to better serve all of Minnesota.