The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs how healthcare institutions release medical information about patients to members of the news media.
The decision to provide such informaiton is determined by whether the patient's name does or does not appear in the hospital directory. If the patient's name is listed in the directory, we can provide a condition if the reporter supplies us with the name, spelled correctly.
If the name does not appear in the directory, either the individual is not a patient at EHS or they have decided to "opt out" of the directory. In the later case, HIPAA prevents us from providing any information about the patient or his/her condition.
The conditions we are permitted to provide if the patient's name appears in the directory are:
Good - Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable.
Fair - Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable.
Serious - Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill.
Critical - Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious.
To provide more detailed information about a patient's condition, including interviews and photos while the patient is located at Erlanger, an additional step must take place - the patient and or member of his/her family must sign at HIPAA release form. Erlanger's public relations staff will complete this form prior to the interview/photo taking place.