Privacy regulations issued by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) strictly govern the use and release of a patient’s personal health information. If you are looking for information about the status of a patient at Liberty Hospital, here’s what you need to know:
- You need to have the patient’s first and last name before we can release his or her condition. Without a name, condition reports can’t be released – even if someone on the scene gives you a condition report and you “just want to confirm if it is correct.”
- If you have the patient’s first and last name, hospital staff must then look up that name in the hospital directory to see if the patient is listed and authorized to have condition released. If the patient is not listed in the directory, we can not even confirm that he or she is at Liberty Hospital, nor can we offer a condition report.
- If the patient is listed in the directory, the only information that can then be released is a one-word condition report – unless the hospital media relations representative receives consent from the patient directly. Please note – only the patient can give permission to consent to interviews or release more detailed information – not the patient’s spouse or next of kin. The only exception is children under age 18, whose legal guardians may make decisions about consenting to interviews or releasing additional information.
- At any time, the patient can make the decision to restrict any information released to the media, including condition.
Here’s the definition of the one-word patient conditions we can release, as provided by the Missouri Hospital Association:
- Undetermined: Patient awaiting physician 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 not be conscious; indicators are unfavorable.
- Treated and released: Received treatment but not admitted.
Note: The term “stable” should not be used as a condition. Furthermore, this term should not be used in combination with other conditions, which by definition, often indicate a patient is unstable.
If you have additional questions about the release of patient information, please contact the Public Relations director at 816-407-2317.