SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 2, 2013

Doctor refuses to take suspect's blood

Police say woman gave her consent

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — Police want to know why a Salem Hospital doctor refused to draw a blood sample from a repeat drunken driver who was arrested after running off the road and into a wooded area in Salem early Sunday — even though the driver signed a consent form agreeing to the test.

Anne Marie Marino, 52, who lists addresses at 205 Highland Ave., Salem, and in Lynn, pleaded not guilty to a charge of third-offense drunken driving and driving to endanger during her arraignment yesterday afternoon.

“I’m troubled that it happened,” said Salem police Capt. Brian Gilligan, who contacted the hospital after learning of the situation yesterday morning.

A hospital spokeswoman said yesterday that administrators are still looking into the matter.

“We’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened,” said Laura Fleming of North Shore Medical Center, which includes Salem Hospital, who suggested that the doctor may have misinterpreted hospital policy.

Police were sent to the area near Highland Avenue and First Street shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday for a truck that had crashed. Patrolman Gil Priddy said in his report that he found a Dodge Ram pickup stuck atop a large boulder. The truck had traveled across a landscaped area adjacent to an apartment complex and through a large wooden sign, causing about $4,000 worth of damage.

The driver, later identified as Marino, was unconscious and had blood on her face, chest and arms. Priddy said she woke up after he called out several times to her.

“Hi, what’s up?” Marino allegedly asked the officer. When he asked if she had been drinking, Marino allegedly told him that she had been to a friend’s house and had “five or six beers, not much, just a few. I’m OK, though.”

At Salem Hospital, she signed both a waiver of her Miranda rights and a consent form agreeing to provide a blood sample to be tested for alcohol.

After a typical drunken-driving arrest, a defendant is offered a choice of a Breathalyzer test or a blood test, which he or she must pay for, at a hospital.

Despite the consent form, Dr. Marisella Marrero refused to take the blood sample.

She told Priddy that it was “against hospital policy” to take a blood sample without a court order or a warrant, he wrote in his report.

When Priddy and, later, a sergeant on duty tried to explain that they had obtained Marino’s consent for the test, Marrero told them she would have to speak to the hospital’s lawyer.

During that conversation, Priddy wrote in his report, Marrero expressed another objection: that Marino was “way too intoxicated” for her to draw blood.

Priddy wrote that no blood sample was taken as a result of the doctor’s decision.

Fleming said the hospital does have policies concerning the release of blood test results, which typically requires a court order, as well as concerning the taking of a blood sample.

However, those policies do allow doctors to take a sample when there is written consent, Fleming said.

“She was trying to do the right thing,” said Fleming, who suggested that the doctor misinterpreted the policy.

“We do try to cooperate to the greatest degree we can with law enforcement,” Fleming said.

That decision will have an effect not only on Marino’s case, however, but on the ability of the Registry of Motor Vehicles to take action on her driver’s license as a result of the arrest.

Marino has two prior drunken-driving convictions on her record, one in 1994 and one in 1998.

After prosecutors initially filed a request to hold her without bail as a danger to the public, a court-appointed lawyer negotiated an agreement under which she admitted that she poses a danger but agreed to several conditions, including an order not to drive and a requirement for random alcohol tests, along with $1,000 cash bail.

Because there is no Breathalyzer or blood test result, even though Marino agreed to submit to a test, police believe that the Registry of Motor Vehicles will be unable to take any action on her license unless she is convicted.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.