Private investigators often begin their search for a missing person in local hospitals. Many missing persons turn up there because of injury, or mental health issues that make them unable to let family and friends know their whereabouts - and sometimes unable even to tell the hospital staff who they are. If you’re looking for a friend or family member that you believe is (or might be) in a hospital, don’t worry - there are a few key strategies that private investigators use to track hospital patients down - and now you can use them too.
In this post, we will cover what information you need get started, what methods to use, and important things to know when you’re searching for a missing person at hospitals.
What you need
- The missing person's personal information, including their date of birth.
- A physical description of the missing person
- A picture of the missing person
Start your search
The most important thing to remember here is that persistence is key. You may need to repeat these steps day after day, remain on hold for extended periods of time, and become acquainted with each hotel’s administration before you find your missing person. This is doubly true if you haven’t got a lot of information to go on, or the person you’re looking for hasn’t given their correct details to the hospital.
Let’s get started:
- Locate potential hospitals. Start by finding the contact information of the hospitals closest to where they live or were last seen. After you’ve contacted the closest hospitals - you’ll want to expand your search outward. Google and the Yellow Pages work great for this.
- Call the hospital. Call each hospital on your list and ask for the missing person by name. If you believe the person you’re looking for has been admitted recently, ask to speak to the person in charge of emergency room admissions. Otherwise, ask to speak to someone in whatever department you feel is relevant - for instance, the psychiatric ward. You may have to explain what your relation to the missing person is for privacy reasons.
- Enquire about John/Jane Doe patients. John or Jane Doe is the name given to a patient that can’t give their information (unconscious) and doesn’t have any identification when they’re admitted. You should ask if any units have admitted any unidentified people recently. If they have - ask to be transferred to that unit. Once you’re transferred - ask to speak with the head nurse. Give the head nurse the description of the missing person. Head Nurses know what’s going on in their unit and will be able to tell you if their John or Jane Doe fits the description.
- Go to the hospital. Ask for the missing person by name at the front desk. You may need to explain your relation to them - but the front desk can direct you to their room. Also, ask if any John or Jane Does were recently admitted. If so, ask them to direct you to the unit where they were admitted. Give the Head Nurse of the unit the description and picture of the missing person. They will be able to let you know if the John or Jane Doe matches the description and picture.
Things to know
- HIPPA privacy laws will make things difficult. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) can make it difficult to find a patient. The ACLU says that HIPPA does not prevent loved ones from finding out where a relative has been admitted. The more information about the person you're looking for you have, the more likely it is that the hospital will be able to tell you if they have been admitted.
- If the patient is unconscious you may still be able to find them. The ACLU also says that In emergency situations where a patient is unconscious a hospital can disclose a patient’s information if it has historically been their preference. They can also disclose a patient's information to family and loved ones if it is in the patient's best interest - see the full language here.
Hopefully, this post helped explain the best ways to find a missing person in a hospital. When people go missing, it causes a lot of anxiety, and no one wants to find a loved one injured and in hospital - but it’s one of the most likely places your missing person would be. We hope this guide has helped you find them as quickly as possible.
Looking for a missing person? Check out our post about how to find a missing person in jail, or this post about how to find someone’s information, including likely whereabouts, online.
If you’re having trouble finding someone, we can help. Trustify provides experienced investigators on demand that can help you find a missing person, including a runaway child, or reconnect you with a long-lost relative.