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HIPAA Guidelines

Shands HealthCare strictly abides by new standards for releasing patient medical information that are the result of federal legislation initiated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA requires that healthcare institutions safeguard the privacy and integrity of patients and their personal health information.

The following standards have been established for news media inquiries about the status of patients:

  • All media inquiries must include the specific patient's name and exact spelling.
  • As long as the patient has not requested that information be withheld, we may release the name of the hospital and the patient's condition without obtaining prior written patient authorization.
  • Release of any medical information beyond the condition requires written authorization by the patient or patient's legal representative.
  • Please note: Public agencies such as law enforcement and fire/rescue are not bound by the same standards. Find more information here.
  • Videotaped or tape-recorded interviews, photographs or any other interaction with a patient requires written patient authorization.
  • The patient has the option to expressly state that he or she does not want information released including confirmation of his or her presence in the facility.

Public record cases

Patients involved in matters of public record have the same privacy rights as all other patients. The fact that a patient has been transported to the hospital from an accident, crime scene or fire has no bearing on the patient's privacy. The name verification and condition still applies. In such cases, media inquiries would be referred to the appropriate public agency that receives such reports. These agencies include the medical examiner, law enforcement agency, fire/rescue transport agency or health department.

Hospital Directory

Federal medical privacy laws allow hospitals to release to the media only the information maintained in a hospital’s directory.

Information may not appear in the directory if:

  • The person is not a patient at the facility.
  • The person was treated and released.
  • The person is not yet formally admitted into the system, is being transferred within the health system or is in treatment and a condition report is unavailable.
  • The person was transferred to another facility.
  • The person has requested that no information be released about him or her, including verifying that the person is at the facility.
  • The person was admitted to the facility under an alias, so the patient does not show up in any records by his or her name.
  • The patient is deceased and does not appear in the hospital directory.
  • Find more information about obtaining patient condition reports here.