Is my friend a. alive, b. dead, c. in a hospice somewhere?
March 13, 2014 3:42 PM   Subscribe

How can I find my former roommate who was hospitalized last year, then moved a few times and now none of the places where he was admits to having him there?

I'd been visiting him once a month or so since he was hospitalized last August. The last time I saw him, he was very ill (complications from congestive heart failure, diabetes, other health problems) and was moved to another different facility. It was the 5th move since it all began.

I went to the facility where I'd seen him last, where they directed me to a local hospital. I called them.

The hospital claims he had been there, but wasn't any more. After much prodding, the person who answered the phone said, "He was breathing when he left here," but also claimed that for any further information, I needed a signed affidavit from the emergency contact or next-of-kin. He has no next-of-kin and I'm possibly the emergency contact, but I don't know and I don't want to claim it if it isn't true.

How can I locate him?
posted by YupLisnin to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wouldn't his emergency contact be listed in his file? Can you give them your name, tell them you think you might be his emergency contact, and ask them to check?
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:54 PM on March 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is in the US? HIPAA will make it tough if you're not family or his emergency contact. I would suggest getting in touch with those people if possible.
posted by supercres at 3:59 PM on March 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

Why don't you call or email him? If you don't have any way of getting in touch with him I (I'm guessing like the hospital) would also seriously question whether I should be giving you info about him.
posted by arnicae at 4:23 PM on March 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ask for his emergency contact information. If it's you, great, if not hopefully someone you know of or can get in contact with. Perhaps the hospital will even relay your request to the NoK (ha! but worth a shot)
posted by edgeways at 4:30 PM on March 13, 2014

Yes, if you're in the US and not an emergency contact and don't have power of attorney the health care facility will not provide you with information. If you were either they would probably have notified you when he was moved. Sorry.

Have you done any searching for his name online? Any mutual friends or acquaintances who might know something?
posted by lharmon at 4:35 PM on March 13, 2014

Call the police non emergency line and talk to them about whether you can file a missing persons report. Don't lie; just explain the situation.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:36 PM on March 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also, ask the hospital or any other known place he has been if they will pass on a message.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:37 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you were either they would probably have notified you when he was moved. Sorry.

I wouldn't count on that - I'm an emergency contact for two people and wasn't contacted by the hospital when they were hospitalized or released.

Always, always go in person when you need this kind of critical information - much easier for people to hang up the phone than turn you away face-to-face. Smile - make it easy for them to want to find that file.

(I mean, in case you turn out to be the contact, at the first hospital. I'm not suggesting you ask people to bend the rules. But I'm also not suggesting you don't. Maybe a nurse will remember you. Anyway, go and see for yourself.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:50 PM on March 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

(Also: one reason I wasn't contacted, in one case, at least, was that the ER and the records department had different people indicated as contacts, me and someone else, from years ago. Check both departments in case they have multiple systems that rely on manual input.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:28 PM on March 13, 2014

If you were either they would probably have notified you when he was moved. Sorry.

Just assuming hospitals are universally competent in follow though of this nature would be a mistake. Perhaps there are those that are, but, hell, I've had hospitals come in ask me about dietary concerns then turn around and 3 hours later serve me exactly the things I requested they not serve.

Call, or as mentioned upthread if possible go in and ask specifically if you are listed as an emergency contact.
posted by edgeways at 5:41 PM on March 13, 2014

I'm a case manager with all kinds of releases of information and people are still hesitant to say anything over the phone. IN the one case I was an emergency contact and social worker and they still did not notify me of his death until I started waving around paperwork. And I never got cause of death.
Missing persons, Google and keep asking around and see if someone doesn't follow protocol. I wish the policies were different but they are there for good reasons.

If you live in a small area try nursing homes hospice centers as well. Generally their policies are more lax so if he's there you might be able to find out.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:11 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It turns out that my friend was in very poor condition, but alive. We still don't know what happened to him, because he was returned to the original facility, where he had dialysis one day, his blood pressure dropped afterward, and kept dropping.

He died, but no one contacted us, so when my husband and I went to visit him later in the week, they told us that he had died but not what day or any other details except that apparently it was because of a side-effect of dialysis, when they couldn't get his blood pressure to go back up.

Thank you to everyone for your answers and information. I hope it's not going to be useful again in my life, but you never know...
posted by YupLisnin at 3:38 PM on April 13, 2014

Sorry to hear this.
posted by edgeways at 5:01 PM on April 13, 2014

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