MultiCare's policy complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA's Privacy Rule will limit disclosure of personal patient health information, even among hospital personnel. As a result, hospital public relations representatives will be limited in their ability to respond to media requests.
Reporters must ask about patients by name to receive any information. Typically, the hospital will be able to confirm that the patient is in the facility and provide a standard one-word condition report using the following terms:
Undetermined: Patient awaiting evaluation.
Good: Vital signs are stable and normal. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
Fair: Vital signs are stable and normal. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are excellent.
Serious: Vital signs may be unstable and not normal. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
Critical: Vital signs are unstable and not normal. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.
The hospital may not share the above information if the patient or patient's guardian has provided instructions not to do so. The hospital may not be able to disclose a patient's location within the facility. Specific written authorization is required from the patient or guardian to provide more information including a statement beyond a one-word condition, an interview with the patient or photos of the patient.
The hospital may release general information to dispel public anxiety, such as “the facility is treating four individuals as a result of the explosion.”
Media inquiries regarding matters of public record should be directed to the appropriate governmental agency such as the police or fire department, medical examiner's office or health department.
This policy conforms to the Guide for Cooperation published by the Washington State Hospital Association.