HRMC Media Calls
The Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains provisions that govern what information hospitals can release about patients. In general, HRMC will be as helpful as possible within the boundaries of this law. Here are the guidelines for media personnel who wish to obtain a condition statement about a patient.
According to HIPAA, HRMC must give all patients the opportunity to withhold directory information. They can choose to be "confidential patients," meaning that their presence will not be able to be confirmed to anyone outside the institution. These patients will not be listed in the facility directory. This opportunity is given to patients when they are registered. When patients cannot speak for themselves, we treat them as confidential patients, unless their physician or the administrator-on-call has a compelling reason to release information.
All media requests must go to the Marketing & Communications Department. To request a patient's condition, media personnel must have the patient's name. We cannot search our facility directory without a patient name. Media requests for patient information must go through the Marketing staff:
To protect the privacy and confidentiality of our patients, all members of the media must be escorted by a Marketing representative or designee, a security officer, or the nursing administrator.
The Media Relations Staff is available to respond to inquiries and requests from members of the media. In addition to assisting you with information for a news story, we are pleased to assist you with the following:
- News releases
- Fact sheets
- Information on health-related topics
- Photographs and digital images
- Interview scheduling with a Hampton Regional Medical Center administrator, staff member, patient or physician on staff
If patients choose not to withhold information, HRMC can release the following condition information when the request is made for it by the patient's name. For one-word conditions, terms to describe patient conditions are listed below:
- Undetermined: Patient is awaiting physician and/or assessment.
- Good: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
- Fair: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.
- Serious: Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
- Critical: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.
Death of Patient: The death of a patient may be reported to the authorities by the hospital, as required by law. Typically, public information about a death will be disclosed after efforts have been made to notify the next-of-kin. Information about the cause of death must come from the patient's physician, and a legal representative of the deceased must approve its release. This means that hospitals cannot share information with the media on the specifics about sudden, violent or accidental deaths, or deaths from natural causes, without the permission of the decedent's next-of-kin or other legal representative.
In general, any activities beyond those outlined above require express, written permission from the patient, or the patient's legal representative including:
- Detailed condition statement beyond the one-word condition
- Photographs of the patient
- Media interview
Disaster Situations: In some situations, such as disasters, the public may benefit from the release of general information. In these situations, HRMC will have activated the Incident Command System. HRMC will have a designated Public Information Officer who can release general information about the patients being treated (number of patients by gender or age group but without names, e.g. "as the result of the chemical spill, HRMC is treating 5 adult patients. All are in good condition.")