A Prince George's General Hospital attorney and county authorities called a truce of sorts yesterday by agreeing that medical records seized last week by county police be returned to the hospital, perhaps today.
Last Friday, 15 county police officers investigating 22 patient deaths at the hospital removed about 200 boxes of laboratory files, including reams of computer printouts. Police insisted that they needed the records, which had not been provided to them when a search warrant was served in April.
Police have pored over other hospital records since March when Jane F. Bolding, a former nurse, was arrested and charged with murdering a patient by intentionally injecting a lethal dose of potassium.
Charges against Bolding have been dropped because of lack of evidence, but police are continuing to search for new information.
Dr. Ivan Mattei, who runs the hospital lab, insisted that the loss of the lab documents taken Friday compromised the staff's ability to care for patients and that police took many items unrelated to the 22 patients named in the warrant.
Yesterday, hospital lawyer Wayne Curry arrived at the Prince George's Circuit Court pushing a cart containing six boxes of photocopied lab records, which he said were copies of originals given police in April.
Curry sought a hearing to force the return of the records taken Friday. Instead, he and representatives from the county state's attorney's office met with Circuit Court Judge Howard S. Chasanow in chambers to hammer out an agreement in which the police are to return all 330,000 documents.
These will be placed in a special hospital room under police guard where they will be accessible to both hospital officials and detectives, according to Chasanow.
After the meeting Curry said he was satisfied with the arrangement but was still angered at the police actions, which he called "the worst example of prosecutorial excess."
However Prince George's chief prosecutor Arthur A. Marshall said yesterday that hospital employes have been counseled not to cooperate with police. He said police had advised him that they had not been given all of the documents they sought. He said he hopes that Friday's execution of the search warrant "got their attention" at the hospital.