Everyone has the right to due process which includes being formally served but, what happens when the person being served is currently hospitalized? Someone may be hospitalized for a short period of time, or an unknown length of time, but the legal process requires that a person must be informed within a predetermined period of time once legal action has been taken against them. This issue is further complicated by patient confidentiality laws but, fortunately, there are specific rules for serving court papers in a hospital outlined in the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure.
Serving Court Papers in a Hospital:
When it comes to serving court papers to someone in a hospital, there are several important factors to consider. While the general process remains the same, certain considerations need to be taken into account due to the unique circumstances.
- Patient Confidentiality and Privacy:
- One of the biggest factors to consider when trying to serve someone that is in the hospital is the laws around patient privacy. Hospitals are bound by strict patient confidentiality laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Process servers must adhere to these regulations while serving court papers, ensuring that the privacy and confidentiality of the individual’s medical information are protected.
- Hospital Policies and Restrictions:
- Every hospital has its own policies regarding visitors, including process servers. Process servers must contact the hospital beforehand and understand their regulations for visitation, and more specifically, serving court papers. This may involve coordinating with hospital staff, security personnel, or the legal department to ensure compliance with their rules.
- Timing and Location:
- Serving court papers in a hospital can be delicate, as patients may be hospitalized for a variety of reasons. It is important to coordinate with hospital staff to determine the most appropriate time and location for service, depending on the patient’s condition. It is also crucial to be respectful of the patient’s well-being and considerate of their situation.
- Sensitivity and Empathy:
- Serving court papers in a hospital can be emotionally challenging for the individual involved, as well as their family and friends. Process servers must approach the situation with sensitivity and empathy, understanding the potential impact it may have on the person’s overall well-being.