County District Court File No. 51-CR-16-281
Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Travis J.
Smith, Murray County Attorney, (for appellant)
William J. Wetering, (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Connolly, Presiding Judge; Reilly,
Judge; and Reyes, Judge.
seizure of a patient's blood sample pursuant to a search
warrant addressed to a hospital does not violate the
statutory physician-patient privilege because a blood sample
collected by the hospital as part of medical treatment does
not constitute "information" under the plain
language of Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 1(d) (2016).
district court granted respondent's motion to suppress a
blood sample that had been taken from respondent by a medical
professional because the blood sample was protected by
Minnesota's physician-patient privilege pursuant to Minn.
Stat. § 595.02, subd. 1(d). Because a blood sample does
not fall within the plain meaning of "information,
" the district court erred in determining that a blood
sample is subject to the statutory physician-patient
privilege. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.
10, 2016, a Murray County Deputy Sheriff responded to an
all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accident. When the deputy arrived,
he saw an ATV that looked as though it had been in a
collision and respondent Heath Allen Atwood bleeding from his
head, lying on the street in a pool of blood. While the
deputy was stabilizing respondent's head to prevent
further injury, he smelled alcohol on respondent's
breath. An ambulance took respondent to the hospital.
way to the hospital, the deputy stopped at the sheriff's
office to get a copy of the Minnesota implied-consent
advisory form. At the hospital, a doctor asked the deputy to
refrain from reading the implied-consent advisory to
respondent because the doctor was attempting to keep
respondent calm. The doctor also told the deputy that
respondent was receiving a blood transfusion. Respondent was
flown to another hospital for further treatment. The deputy
did not read the implied-consent advisory to respondent. The
deputy subsequently learned that the hospital was storing a
vial of respondent's blood taken prior to the transfusion
in the hospital lab. He then obtained a search warrant to
seize the vial and submit it for testing. Subsequent lab
analysis revealed that respondent's BAC was 0.155.
was charged with two counts of fourth-degree driving while
impaired. Prior to trial, respondent moved to suppress the
blood sample and the subsequent BAC test results, invoking
the physician-patient privilege pursuant to Minn. Stat.
§ 595.02, subd. 1(d). The district court granted
respondent's motion, reasoning that respondent's
blood sample constituted "information" subject to
Minnesota's physician-patient privilege. The state
appeals the suppression order in a pretrial appeal.
blood sample "information" for purposes of Minn.