Media Policies 
 
 
 
 

HIPAA privacy regulations have specific provision for the release of limited information about the patient without the patient’s authorization when someone specifically asks about the patient by name. The hospital does not release conditions to the news media if a media representative cannot provide the name of the patient. Once a patient consents to be listed in the hospital directory, the patient’s condition, described in general terms that do not communicate specific information about the patient, can be released without the patient’s authorization. If the patient has declined to be listed in the directory, the hospital spokesperson will tell the media representative, “We do not have the patient listed in our directory.”

Except for the following one-word conditions, information about the patient’s medical condition may not be released without the patient’s written permission. Only a physician may discuss the patient’s diagnosis and/or prognosis with the news media, as long as the patient has given the physician written permission to do so. The following terms are to be used to describe the patient’s condition: 

1. GOOD. Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.

2. FAIR/SATISFACTORY. Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.

3. SERIOUS. Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.

4. CRITICAL: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is most likely unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.

5. UNCONSCIOUS: The hospital may release information that the patient was unconscious when brought to the hospital.

6. DECEASED: Public information about a death will be disclosed only after efforts have been made to notify next-of-kin. Information about the cause of death must come from the patient’s physician or the medical examiner, and a legal representative of the deceased must approve the release. This means that the hospital cannot share information with the media the specifics about sudden, violent or accidental deaths, or deaths from natural causes, with the permission of the decedent’s next-of-kin or other legal representative.