HIPAA Regulations and Release of Patient Information
Any patient medical information released to the news media will be done in strict accordance with HIPAA, which requires health care institutions to safeguard the privacy and integrity of patients and their personal health information.
DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan works with the media to provide accurate and timely information, while respecting the confidentiality of patients’ medical information and complying with HIPAA’s privacy regulations. However, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan may refrain from releasing information about a patient involving cases of a sensitive nature or to ensure their security.
All media inquiries for information about patients must be coordinated through Public Relations and Marketing. The following standards have been established for news media inquiries about the status of patients:
- All media inquiries must include the specific patient’s name.
- As long as the patient has not requested that information be withheld, we may release a one-word condition (see condition section) about the patient.
- Release of any medical information beyond the condition requires written authorization by the patient (if 18 years or older) or patient's legal representative. Note: Public agencies (law enforcement, fire/rescue, etc), are not bound by the same standards.
- Videotaped or tape-recorded interviews, photographs or any other interaction with a patient requires written patient authorization.
- The patient (if 18 years or older) has the option to expressly state that he or she does not want information released, including confirmation of his or her presence in the facility.
Below are the conditions approved by the American Hospital Association for release about a patient:
- Undetermined - Patient awaiting physician assessment.
- Good – Excellent or good prognosis. Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable.
- Fair – Favorable prognosis. Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious but may be uncomfortable. Patient is experiencing minor complications.
- Serious – Acutely ill with questionable prognosis. Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. There is a chance for improved prognosis.
- Critical – Questionable prognosis. Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Major complications are involved.
- Death of a patient – A patient’s death cannot be reported or confirmed until efforts have been made by the attending physician to notify the patient’s next-of-kin. At that time, and unless the deceased’s legal representative requests that the information be withheld, Public Relations & Marketing staff may report only that the patient is deceased. No other information may be provided such as the time or cause of death without individual authorization from a personal representative of the deceased. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals cannot share information with the media on the specifics about the circumstances of a death without permission of the deceased’s next-of-kin or other legal representative.
- Treated and Released – received treatment but no longer being treated at the facility.
- Treated and Transferred – received treatment; transferred to a difference facility.