Hospitals and health systems are responsible for protecting the privacy and confidentiality of their patients and patient information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) mandates regulations that govern privacy standards for healthcare information.
All media inquiries for information about Shands’ patients must be coordinated through the Public Relations department.
Getting Updates on Patients
Shands HealthCare provides all patients upon admission an option regarding inclusion in our facility patient directory as required by federal law. Patients are asked during the admission process if they would like to opt out of the facility patient directory.
- If a patient chooses to opt out of the directory, we cannot provide a patient condition report nor confirm the patient’s presence in the facility.
- If a patient chooses not to opt out of the directory, we can provide a one-word condition of the patient (see descriptions below) after the patient’s correct first and last name, including exact spelling, are provided.
The HIPAA patient privacy law may delay your request for conditions on patients arriving in our trauma centers and emergency departments, because a patient must first be approached about whether or not they wish to opt out of our facility patient directory upon admission as stated above.
Release of any medical information beyond the one-word condition, including interviews and photographs with the patient or medical staff, requires written authorization by the patient or patient's legal representative.
Understanding One-Word Condition Reports
Below are the one-word conditions approved by the American Hospital Association:
- Treated and released - Patient was treated and released, and is no longer a patient in the facility.
- Undetermined - Patient is waiting 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.
- Deceased - A patient’s death cannot be reported or confirmed until efforts have been made by the medical team to notify the patient’s next-of-kin. At that time, and unless the deceased’s legal representative requests that the information be withheld, Public Relations staff may report that the patient is deceased and the date and time of death. Additional information (such cause of death) cannot be released unless Public Relations, or a Shands staff person designated by Public Relations, obtains permission from the deceased’s legal representative and uses a patient consent form.
According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals cannot share information with the media on the specifics about sudden, violent or accidental deaths, or death from natural causes, without permission of the deceased’s next-of-kin or other legal representative.