SALEM -- As police and friends searched Monday for a missing 81-year-old man, Salem Hospital refused to tell police he was a patient, citing federal privacy law.
Hospital spokeswoman Sherryll Hoar says it was blocked by the law known as HIPAA.
The Statesman Journal reports police learned Thomas Dill was a patient at Salem Hospital on Wednesday thanks to a tip from an anonymous caller.
Lt. Steve Birr says it's a cumbersome law, especially in missing person cases involving people with mental illnesses.
Birr doesn't think the hospital was being adversarial, but knowing he was a patient would have saved taxpayer dollars and spared Dill's friends anxiety.