Sunday, May 14, 2006
The Louisiana Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by several Gannett-owned newspapers including The Shreveport Times, The Alexandria Town Talk and the Lafayette Advertiser, of a lower court opinion that denied the media access to 9-1-1 tapes of calls for assistance for former Louisiana Secretary of State Fox McKeithen in February of 2005. When an ambulance was finally dispatched to McKeithen's home, EMT personnel found that he had fallen and was severely injured. His resulting quadriplegia left him dependent on a respirator; he died five months later. East Baton Rouge Emergency Medical Services has cited medical privacy law, most notably that embodied in HIPAA, as its reason for not releasing the tapes, and the Louisiana courts have agreed. EBR EMS did release a timeline of the calls indicating that the first call for help for McKeithen was cancelled by a second call to EMS a few minutes later, causing a more than 30 minute delay in response.