The first responsibility of St. Joseph Health System is to protect the health, legal rights and general welfare of our patients and their families. Patients have specific legal rights to privacy concerning medical information as governed by several federal and state laws, as well as standards set forth by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
All contact by the media must be made through the St. Joseph Health System Communications department (see contacts listed below).
Authorization is required for videotaping, photographing and/or interviewing patients or employees in the medical center. The Communications team will work with the media to obtain permission on a case-by-case basis.
A member of the Communications team must escort the media while on campus at all times.
Reporters are asked to please refer to us as St. Joseph Health System or St. Joseph Regional Health Center (NEVER St. Joseph's or St. Joseph Hospital) .
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) states that a patient or parent/guardian (in the case of a patient who is a minor) must give permission, in writing, to release information about his or her hospitalization. Once written consent has been established, the following guidelines apply:
Requests for condition updates require media to provide the patient's full name
The information released will be limited to a one-word condition:
GOOD - Vital signs (respiration, pulse, temperature) within normal limits and stable; patient is conscious, comfortable; indicators excellent.
FAIR - Vital signs may be unstable, not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious; indicators favorable.
SERIOUS - Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits, patient acutely ill; indicators not favorable.
CRITICAL - Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits, patients may not be conscious; indicators not favorable.
UNCONSCIOUS - Patient was unconscious upon arrival.
DECEASED - Coroners, medical examiners or law enforcement officials are the best sources of information about deaths.
Death is usually public record and may be announced after next-of-kin have been notified or after a reasonable time.
Patient information related to chemical dependency, alleged abuse, attempted suicide or psychiatric cases will never be provided. Nor will the hospital comment on circumstances leading to a patient's hospitalization.
Information on situations involved in litigation will not be released.
Law enforcement officials, Child Protective Services and patients or parents/guardians may ask that no information be released. St. Joseph officials cannot confirm or deny that a no-info patient is located at our facility, nor can we provide condition reports.
When a patient (or his/her parent or guardian) is a celebrity or prominent person, communications representatives will issue periodic statements in cooperation with the patient's family, physician and nursing/clinical staff.
No information is available about former patients without written permission from the patient or parent/guardian.