Federal medical privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), limit some types of information that hospitals can provide to the news media.
HIPAA is designed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of patient information. HIPAA regulations govern which information may and may not be released without authorization from the patient.
Failure to abide by HIPAA regulations can result in fines and sanctions against the hospital.
Privacy laws have always restricted the release of certain patient information to the media. HIPAA regulations are much more stringent.
Information that can be released:
- The patient's general condition may be released only if the inquiry specifically identifies the patient by name, and if the patient is listed in our patient directory.
- Only a one-word condition may be released: undetermined, good, fair, serious or critical.
- The press may be told if a patient has been treated and released -- but no information on the release date or where the patient was released may be given.
Information that cannot be released:
- No information shall be released when a patient specifically requests it.
- Cause, date or time of death.
- Identity and any information about sexual assault victims, suspected domestic violence victims, psychiatric, drug or alcohol abuse patients.
- No information concerning prisoners. These questions will be referred to the proper police, jail or prison official.
With the patient's authorization, the following may be released or allowed:
- Specific details about the patient's hospitalization or diagnosis
- In the case of a juvenile, the name of the parent may be released only with the parent's consent.
- Media interviews and/or photographs of patients. These must be arranged through the Strategic Services department, and a written authorization form signed first by the patient. A Strategic Services escort is also required.