BRENTWOOD — Portsmouth Regional Hospital is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a former Newmarket man who alleges that medical staff released private health information to police who charged him with driving under the influence after a crash.
The hospital argues Bruce P. Bernier’s case should be thrown out because it had a legal duty to report certain information to authorities.
Bernier is suing the hospital in Rockingham County Superior Court for an alleged invasion of privacy following an accident in Newmarket on Sept. 23, 2015.
Bernier was transported to the hospital to be treated for possible injuries, but shortly after he arrived police reported that they received a call from a nurse who said Bernier wasn’t letting the staff treat him properly. She indicated that he could be under the influence of drugs, according to a police report.
Bernier’s suit claims that he didn’t give the hospital permission to disclose such “medical information” and that it was a private matter.
The hospital disagrees.
“In accordance with New Hampshire law mandating the report of injuries believed to be connected to crimes, the hospital contacted police to report (Bernier’s) injuries,” the hospital said in its response.
After getting the call from the hospital, police showed up to continue their investigation and arrested Bernier after he refused to provide a blood sample.
Because he refused to cooperate with blood testing, the hospital said police administratively suspended his driver’s license.
The arrest was also included in police logs published online.
Prosecutors later decided not to pursue the criminal charge or administrative license suspension.
Bernier claims that the “disclosure of his protected health information caused Newmarket police to place Bernier under arrest and publicly disclose the arrest” and that he’s been damaged as a result of the hospital’s actions.
The hospital also argues that it didn’t publicize anything and that it can’t be held monetarily liable for “legitimate police activity.”